Importance of Core Constituency for a Political party

Every political party in the world has its core constituency and parties try to keep them in good humor when in power and use them for propaganda when out of power. Increasingly parties are finding it tough to keep their core constituencies particularly if they are not left oriented.

The core constituency helps a party in conducting meetings and creating an atmosphere of “winning” before a poll.

In the US, the core constituency of Republicans is Church going/ gun toting/ white adult male with less than a college education. Plus you can add pro-life anti-homosexuals’ anti- blacks’ anti-globalization etc. But that addition is selective in regions. Similarly, Democrats have left liberals, minorities, unions, well-educated/ agnostic, pro-choice, pro-homosexual and young. Again some of these are region specific.

In India, many regional parties are caste specific— the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Yadavs and Muslims / Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) of Vanniars/ Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Scheduled Castes etc. Congress has been generally been all-encompassing with everything to everybody in the past. But post-Sonia it is perceived as anti-Hindu and Pro minorities.

In the case of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) it is middle class both current and aspiring; small traders/ businessmen; Pro-Hindutva youngsters; Hindu women and some working-class men. Communists used to have trade unions and student unions but after the fall of Berlin wall, their ideology has a lesser impact and even in their strongholds like Bengal they have become a “has been”.

The core constituency helps a party in conducting meetings and creating an atmosphere of “winning” before a poll. Of course, core constituency alone is not enough to win a poll. It should be perceived by non-core that you will take care of their interests also when in power – and that will make them vote for you.

But if core constituency is alienated then polls become tougher since non-core will not show the “josh” to create the atmosphere. In the current context, there are signs that the core constituency is slowly becoming unhappy with the ruling party.

Textbooks carry the same old themes of Nehruvian era praising Moguls and their achievements. Not much on Cholas/ Rashtrakutas/ Pallavas/ Vijayanagara etc. The history books, written by communists which include discredited Aryan Invasion Theory – AIT still dominate school textbooks.

First are the Education and Culture. One finds the vicious Right to Education Act [RTE] which is applicable to only Hindu educational institutions has not been dealt with. One view is that this has given rise to peculiar situations like Lingayats demanding separate religious status since they perceive that as a minority religion they are safer in India than being part of Hindu Pantheon. Incidentally, a large number of well-known educational institutions is run by them in Karnataka.

The point is that if any parts of Hindus feel that they are better off being outside-as a separate religion then it hurts the core principles of the ruling party.

Not only that, many Hindu schools are getting closed since they are not able to meet the rigors of RTE. These are well documented in many Pro-BJP journals and papers. But there is an eloquent silence from Government more so the HRD ministry. It has two choices—either scarp the RTE or include all institutions – irrespective of religious denomination -into that. But HRD does not want to do either and makes the middle class carry the cross of the earlier UPA mischief.

Textbooks carry the same old themes of Nehruvian era praising Moguls and their achievements. Not much on Cholas/ Rashtrakutas/ Pallavas / Vijayanagara etc. The history books, written by communists which include discredited Aryan Invasion Theory – AIT still dominate school textbooks. Tamil Nadu textbooks carry chapters on E V Ramasami Naicker (EVR) without mentioning that he was a British Agent and declared -1947 Aug 15th as a day of mourning.

Even a simple change about calling our devatas as “Murtis” from “idols” has not been attempted.

In all, the HRD has been a major failure vis-vis the core constituency.

Personal income tax rates should be 10 and 20 percent and exemption should be Rs.10 lakhs.

The recent Supreme Court (SC) judgment about banning the sale of crackers in Delhi etc. in the name of pollution is an assault on the customs and traditions of Hindus about Diwali. Plus it entails huge employment base. Without understanding the concerns of the core-constituency many leaders have jumped into the liberal/ green bandwagon and shouting about banning crackers everywhere.

As far as economic issues are concerned small traders/businessmen are significantly affected by both demonetization and GST. Govt should have kept the GST limit as Rs.10 crores instead of the 20Lakhs etc. So many representations made by Pro-BJP leaning trade and business groups. But the Finance ministry has been totally silent.

Personal income tax rates should be 10 and 20 percent and exemption should be Rs.10 lakhs.

That is how you electrify your constituency – not by giving speeches about India becoming digital in 5 years.

The approach that anything cash is black is dangerous. Cash is important for roadside vendors and millions of self-employed plumbers/ fitters/ carpenters/ electricians.

Many ministries can be pruned to reduce costs and provide fuel to the middle class at say Rs.40. It will alter the contour of debate by drastically reducing transport cost of essentials. Is the Govt. listening?

Mudra Act should have been passed to cater to these segments by integrating money lenders into the market. Alas, that Act has been stopped by RBI and Finance Ministry to protect turfs.

Credit availability has become precarious for small businesses from unorganized markets which are their mainstay. Organized Banking is throttled by imported ideas of NPA etc. to satisfy US experts and not Indian commerce and Trade.

On corruption, the perception is that the Government is not serious or the right hand of Government does not know what the left hand is doing. Most of the cases like that of 2G/ Maran etc. are at sessions level – a long way to go till SC. Cases like that of Tharoor or Karthi or NDTV have not even started. One case National Herald [NH] is in progress with entire top Congress leaders on bail but that is not due to Government but a private complaint by Dr. Swamy. Mallya escaped under the nose of this Government and public is tired. The government must have constituted a group of experts to expedite all trails from day one.

Many ministries can be pruned to reduce costs and provide fuel to the middle class at say Rs.40. It will alter the contour of debate by drastically reducing transport cost of essentials. Is the Govt. listening?

On the illicit money kept abroad, the less said the better. Not much action is seen other than some sealed covers given by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to the SC—no one knows the net result.

It is required to enthuse the core constituency by actions perceived as supportive of their interests. Thinking that anyhow they will be with us is a dangerous assumption since core constituency by being passive can also alter poll results. A leader’s popularity alone will not be enough to enthuse the core constituency. Recall that Vajpayee was the most popular in 2004 but the party did not win.

It is important to stress that economic development alone cannot win polls but perceived economic failure can be catastrophic.

Can we expect major initiatives to get back the core constituency – enthuse them to become frenzied supporters as in 2014? Josh of the core is the essence of winning elections.

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