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20% of Muslims voted for BJP in 2019, finds Pew survey

By Aditi Phadnis
June 30, 2021 11:08 IST
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The survey indicates that the Congress -- one of the main opposition parties to the BJP -- was the top choice among Muslims (30 per cent), Christians (30 per cent) and Sikhs (33 per cent) in 2019, reports Aditi Phadnis.

IMAGE: Kindly note that this image has been posted for representational purposes only.

One out of five Muslims in India voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general elections.

 

This works out to about 19 per cent, a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre on religion, caste, nationalism and attitudes in India has found.

Nearly half of the Hindu voters (49 per cent) say they voted for the BJP, compared with significantly fewer people among minority religious groups.

The survey indicates that the Congress -- one of the main opposition parties to the BJP -- was the top choice among Muslims (30 per cent), Christians (30 per cent) and Sikhs (33 per cent) in 2019.

The survey confirms anecdotal beliefs:  Indians nearly universally take great pride in their country. Around 96 per cent of Indian adults say they are proud to be Indian.

Similarly, large percentages say they are very proud to be from their state and to be a member of their religious community. While nearly everyone is proud to be Indian, there is somewhat less consensus on whether Indian culture stands out above all others.

A majority of Indians (72 per cent) completely agree with the statement that “Indian people are not perfect, but Indian culture is superior to others.”

While a large share of Indians in the central region (81 per cent) completely agree that Indian culture is superior, only a slim majority say this in the Northeast (59 per cent).

Among other religious minority groups, somewhat fewer people share this sentiment -- about half of Christians (52 per cent) completely agree Indian culture is superior, as do 63 per cent of Muslims and 57 per cent of Sikhs.

There are also a range of views on what it means to be “truly Indian.” For instance, Indians widely agree that respecting India’s institutions and laws and respecting elders are very important to being truly Indian. But there is less unanimity about whether language and religion are tied with Indian identity.

About 56 per cent of people say being able to speak Hindi is very important to being truly Indian. And, a similar share of Indian adults (57 per cent), including 64 per cent of Hindus, say being Hindu is very important to being truly Indian.

The survey throws up interesting insights on questions of national identity. While 64 per cent of Hindus say being a Hindu is very important to being truly Indian, far fewer Muslims (27 per cent) stress on Hinduism’s importance to being Indian.

Politically, Indians with a favourable view of the BJP are also much more likely than other Indians to say being Hindu is very important to Indian identity (65 per cent vs. 45 per cent).

Some attitudes about national identity are closely tied to religious observance. Nearly three quarters of Indians, who say religion is very important in their lives (74 per cent) also say that having Indian ancestry is very important to being truly Indian. Only half of those who say religion is less important consider ancestry a central part of national identity.

While most Indians pride themselves on being a democracy, the survey shows that Indians expressed mixed feelings when asked whether “a democratic government” or “a leader with a strong hand” would be better suited to solve the country’s problems.

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Aditi Phadnis in New Delhi
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