New Delhi: If the Congress had lost all the elections it narrowly won between 1960 and 2000, India would have experienced 11% more Hindu-Muslim riots and 46% more riot casualties, IndiaSpend reported citing a study by former Yale political science research scholars.
Congress members of legislative assemblies (MLAs) forestall communal violence in their constituencies due to their reliance on Muslim votes and their multi-ethnic electoral prospects, the study said.
The study cited data that show that in places where the Congress narrowly wins in state elections, Hindu-Muslim riots are much less likely to occur and lead to fewer casualties when they do.
If the Congress had lost all the elections it narrowly won at the district level between 1960 and 2000, India would have experienced 11% more Hindu-Muslim riots (1,114 instead of 998) and 46% more riot casualties (43,000 instead of 30,000), said the study published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science in 2016.
An abridged version of the study has recently been published in Ideas for India, a platform for discussion on policy issues.
If the Congress had won all the local elections it had narrowly lost, riots would have reduced by 10% (or 103 fewer riots), the study said, adding that Congress MLAs exerted the same downward effect on the incidence of rioting whether or not the state chief minister was a Congressperson.
The findings of the study underscore the wisdom of electoral rules that encourage multi-ethnic parties to form and prosper, the study’s authors, Gareth Nellis, Steven Rosenzweig and Michael Weaver, suggested.
Nellis is now the Evidence in Governance and Politics postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Rosenzweig is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston University and Weaver is a Collegiate Assistant Professor and Harper-Schmidt Fellow at the University of Chicago.
“It (the study) also suggests a need to insulate police from political pressures, and to increase levels of police professionalism, so that their decision to step in to quell attacks on minorities won’t be swayed by which political party happens to be in power at the time,” Weaver told IndiaSpend in an email interview.
The results of the above study notwithstanding, Congress and its leaders have always been accused of being soft on people who instaged riots. During the last UPA tenure, the Congress did not show any interest in passing the anti-communal violence bill despite popular demands, including by its own allies.
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