Skip to main content

Yale University scholars 'warn' Congress: There has been 0.8% rise in BJP vote share following every riot

By Our Representative
In what may prove to a stern warning to those in the Congress party who have come to believe following the recent debacle in the Lok Sabha polls that stressing too much fighting against communal violence may erode their majority Hindu voter base, a recent Yale University research of Indian electoral data, titled “Do parties matter for ethnic violence? Evidence from India”, has reached the drastic conclusion that rise in religious violence in India is a sure sign of the country’s shift away from democracy. Authored by Gareth Nellis, Michael Weaver and Steven Rosenzweig, the scholars base their analysis of assembly election outcomes spread over several decades in 16 major Indian states.
The scholars say, the outbreak of internal religious or ethnic strife in any country is associated with a corresponding 8.5 per cent point decline in a country's Polity IV Score – a data analysis method used in political science to assess a country's level of democracy based on evaluation of elections, competitiveness and openness, the nature of political participation in general, and the extent of checks on executive authority. Strife also leads to five per cent point rise in the likelihood of a coup d'etat, the scholars add, indicating, this is what may be happening in India, too.
Insisting that “ethnic-group conflict is among the most serious threats facing young democracies”, the scholars, citing the instance of the Congress and other secular parties, however, say, “A politician hailing from a party relying on a large base of minority support and having a distinctive reputation for curbing ethnic conflict might devote extra effort and resources toward stemming ethnic disorder when in office.” Conversely, they add, “In settings where bureaucratic and police institutions are weak, party systems are volatile, clientelist strategies of voter mobilization predominate over programmatic appeals.”
Emphasising that “Hindu-Muslim violence tends to polarize the electorate along religious lines, bolstering support for majoritarian Hindu candidates and diminishing support for Congress ones”, the scholars seek to prove this on the basis of analysis of electoral outcomes of Congress candidates who won or lost by less than one per cent votes against a non-Congress candidate. They underline, “A full increase in Congress seat share (from zero to 100 per cent) in a district produces an 87 per cent reduction in the number of riots occurring in that election cycle and a 40 percentage point decrease in the probability of that district experiencing any riot at all.”
The scholars say, the impact of Congress incumbency on riots is “strikingly large”, adding, by way of example, “Between 1962 and 2000, the 315 districts witnessed a total of 998 riots. Our estimates suggest that had Congress won every close election that occurred in this sample, India would have seen 106 (10 percent) fewer riots.” Conversely, had Congress lost all close elections, “we predict that India would have seen 120, or 10 percent, more riots. This exercise illustrates the substantial role that Congress MLAs have played in stemming local Hindu-Muslim conflict in India.”
In fact, the scholars say, while “incumbency by Congress MLAs reduced Hindu-Muslim riots in Indian districts”, Muslims, who have been historically core Congress supporters, suffered “disproportionately from communal violence.” They add, “For a Congress MLA, disappointing local Muslim voters by failing to be proactive on this issue could therefore hinder her chances of re-election.” Hence, “having a greater concentration of Muslims in a district encouraged Congress MLAs to do more to inhibit rioting…” In fact, “Congress' strong links to Muslim voters led the party's MLAs to expend extra effort in reducing riots when in office.”
Comparing this with the Bharatiya Janata Party and its predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJP/BJS), the scholars say, “The BJS/BJP saw a 0.8 per cent point increase in their vote share following a riot in the year prior to an election. This suggests that the electoral costs to Congress may indeed be due to polarization. Meanwhile, if Congress is held more accountable for riots because it owns the issue of preserving communal harmony, we should expect to see Congress punished more for riots that break out when its MLAs hold office in a district.”
The scholars conclude, “According to our most conservative estimates, the election of a single Congress MLA in a district brought about a 32 percent reduction in the probability of a riot breaking out prior to the next election. Simulations reveal that had Congress candidates lost all close elections in our dataset, India would have witnessed 10 percent more riots and thousands more riot casualties. The pacifying effect of Congress incumbency appears to be driven by local electoral considerations, in particular the party's exceptionally strong linkages to Muslim voters”.
The states analyzed are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The research use secondary historical sources to compile a list of all parties that formed state governments in India between 1961 and 2008. This list included the party of the Chief Minister as well as any other parties in coalition governments. It uses the Wilkinson-Varshney database of Hindu- Muslim riots (1950-95), updated by in 2014 by Anirban Mitra and Debraj Ray.

Comments

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…