Communalism is an ideology of political allegiance to a religious community. It means a belief that people who follow a particular religion have common social, economic and political interests.
(i) Jawaharlal Nehru described communalism as the Indian version of fascism. He stated that though minor communalism is born out of fear and major communalism takes the form of political reaction, it may be caused by several factors like :
(ii) Historical Background : A major factor which led to the growth of communalism in India was “British Imperialism”. In keeping with their colonial designs they encouraged the policy of divide and rule. The British encouraged communal politics and introduced separate electorates. People at that time were not treated as Indians but as members of religious communities.
(iii) Socio Economic Causes: On gaining independence India was an imbalanced, stagnant and underdeveloped country. There emerged competition for the limited resources of the country. Due to poverty or want, vested interests found an easy way to mobilise people on caste, communal and religious basis to demand a better share.
(iv) Role of Political Parties: Many political parties are based on religion and use religion as a vote bank. They keep religious identity and allegiances alive.