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Party-hopping


Valentine’s day is probably one of the few rare issues that’re more politically polarizing and charged in India than in the US.

Here, it’s weird – whether you support global warming or not, whether you support a restaurant serving vegetarian dishes or not, how strongly you condemn terrorist attacks in a distant land, can all peg you as right wing vs. left wing. In desh, things were so much better until the 1980’s, really, when there were a zillion political parties and many nuanced positions. And since the politicians needed to remain ideology free to form ever-shifting ever-evolving coalitions, most ideological political stands were actually expressed by non-politicians who had less of a stake in implementing them, and less conflict of interest – so they could be more ‘pure’ and vehement in their arguments.

Now, of course, things are changing. It started back in the mid-1990’s when the BJP took power at the Center and it felt for a bit as if India may go the two-party route. Now we’re back at multi-partyism, but we’ve simplified our politics to either/or dualities. We’re in the unique position in India of having multiple parties, but only two ideologies. A party is now unique by its own collection of different ideological stands – so one may be extreme right-wing (US-defined) in terms of religion, but left-wing (US) in terms of tax collections.

This is still better than the US, where if you’re fiscally conservative, you’re automatically assumed to be against Roe vs. Wade, gun control, and global warming, and for school vouchers, faith-based initiatives, expanding the Department of Homeland Security, and the Iraq War (see Shankar Vedantam’s article in the WaPo here about the increasing, illogical polarization of ideological stands and why it’s taking place in the US).

Either way, could one of these two great nations come up with a party for women’s rights? It covers ~>50% of the population, more than any individual party’s range at the moment, and also be unique. I, for one, would definitely support one such political party.

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