The BJP's 'defeat' in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections has been seen, albeit mistakenly, as a setback for communal forces. But though the BJP did not emphasise the 'Hindutva' issue during its campaign, as surveys cited in this article indicate, there is already some 'polarisation' among the electorate, with religion often deciding voter-preference. Moreover, the new 'middle ground' of Indian politics - shaped by commonly-held notions among the populace as to what constitutes a 'nation' and how it should be governed - reveals that sections of the populace are increasingly more 'expressively religious' and also attached to respective group identities. At the same time, this 'middle ground' traverses a very complex terrain and thereby defies any straitjacketing into 'secular' or 'communal'.
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