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Saturday, May 21, 2016, Jaistha 7, 1423 BS, Shaban 13, 1437 Hijri

Vote-based politics, quandary for minority groups
Sabbir Khan
Published :Saturday, 21 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 92
Victimizing the minority communities in vote-based politics is not an uncommon phenomenon in national politics worldwide. In many countries of the world, the two terms 'immigrant' and 'minority' hold almost the same meaning, if not all the time. Even in Europe, where political culture is grossly considered somewhat fairer than the other parts of the world, many of the European political parties intentionally place the issue of immigration policy ahead of other more important issues to create a temporary stir that helps them increase the support of swinging voter and sometimes to confuse and divide their opponent's support. So, it is no wonder that this tendency would be reproduced by other countries as well.
Tendency of this practice has increased throughout Europe since the last two decades, which results an emersion of the far-right political parties as a balancing factor to form the government and in the parliament as well. Aftermath of upsurge of the far-right political parties also compelled the progressive and liberal parties to change or accommodate their policies on immigration in favour of the far-rights, which set a bad example to the other countries of the world.
Communalism of all forms is nothing new to us. Though Hitler's war against the Jews or the conflict between the White and the Black seems to be primitive nowadays, but something similar to those still exist in many societies today. Business was the main purpose of colonialism which relied upon communalism and racism. However this deep root of communalism extended through difference on religious opinions and customs. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the vacuum of super-power in world politics was filled-up by religious communalism, which was opaque in nature earlier. Since the early nineties, religion based politics became deep-rooted in almost all modern societies. Since then, radicalism has become a particular dogma and annexed a good share of the world politics steadily. Now, given the contemporary world problems like Islamic State and crisis in Syria and failure of joint effort of world powers to solve the problems, it can be said that the world has become divided into two parts---'Democratic Capitalism' and 'Radical fundamentalism.'
It can be argued that the vote-scoring tendency of the world leaders gave birth to such polarisation throughout the world. Particularly in South Asia, this tendency is so acute that the religious minorities are being victimised on a regular basis. Though presence of radicalism in politics is not new in Pakistan and Bangladesh, this phenomenon recently occupied the world's largest democratic country---India too. Infamously known for their communal approach, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has managed to form the government there. Though the country's politics is visibly dominated by development issues, deep within it is radicalism that really dominates. For this, many suspect that Congress may need to adapt to the radical parties like BJP or compromise with their secular stance, which is seen regularly by the liberal parties in the western democratic societies. To survive, the left-leaning parties in India prefer an opportunistic approach. All these factors and practices help strengthen radicalism.
Being influenced by the politics of other countries is a common trend in present-day world politics. We have left behind the period of circumscription. So, as an influential neighbour, politics in Bangladesh is bound to be influenced by politics in India and Pakistan. In the beginning, I argued that religion-based politics is actually the ill-practice of getting more votes and polarising the society. After killing of secular icon Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, a stiff decline was seen in the demography of the minority. Since 2001-2011, one million Hindus simply vanished from the population census without any visible reason, despite having a secular party in the government. It is definitely a matter of regret and anxiety that the percentage of minority people is decreasing without a valid reason and a large number of them is reported to be forcefully exiled to the neighbouring India which has a Hindu majority population.
So far, it has become clear that around the world, the liberal, democratic and socialist political parties are losing ground on politics on the issue of immigration to their radical and conservative political counterparts. Though there is an attempt by the progressive political parties to show this tendency as a trick to keep the far-rights distant from state power, this fails to hinder them from gaining popularity.
In Bangladesh, the same tendency of a hidden conciliation between the secularist government party, Bangladesh Awami League, and the other radical religious parties has become evident with the continuous declination in the minority groups. Already the largest neighbour country of Bangladesh in South Asia, India, declared that it will give shelter to oppressed religious minorities of Bangladesh and Pakistan---more clearly the Hindus---with an automatic citizenship according to the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. Though it seems to be a good move to stop oppression of religious minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, this step has been taken by a right-leaned religious political party---BJP---which has been taken as a political trick to strengthen the narrative of religion based politics of BJP. It is worth mentioning that India is a Hindu-majority nation, whereas Bangladesh and Pakistan are Muslim majority. The BJP leaders already made it clear that the Muslims who want to take shelter in India will be opted out of this opportunity, which is a clear indication that this decision was taken from a religious point of view and not from the intention of serving the oppressed. This decision will indeed encourage the Muslim radicals in Bangladesh and Pakistan and will also create a 'reason' to evict and persecute the religious minorities---the Muslims in India---on which BJP and its leaders are already convicted.
It is a matter of regret that the same occurrence, in different camouflage, is taking place in Europe. For example, all countries of Europe vowed to protect the Jews minorities after the Second World War, but nowadays, they are slightly shifting from their promise, which is same in the case of other minorities as well. If the political parties continue this practice, everybody will suffer in the long run, particularly the upcoming generations. The politics of compromising with the 'bad' will achieve nothing apart from moral erosion in political parties and hence loosing popularity.
Every government and political parties need to keep in mind that radicalism and fundamentalism can never bring good to the society and can never be a friend of the civilization. To be befriended with radicalism for momentary benefit is to fall in trap. This deception of changing a country toward their vile political ideology through keeping secular and progressive parties in state power is nothing but a political trap. The early the South Asian governments realize this, the better it will be for their people.
Sabbir Khan is a political analyst, columnist and
journalist. He is actively involved with issues of War Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh

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