India belongs to all religions, say 79 pc of respondents in Lokniti-CSDS study

The study also suggests decreasing public trust among respondents in the Election Commission of India

Representative image
Representative image

NH Digital

An overwhelming majority — 79 per cent — of respondents to the Pre-Poll Study 2024 by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Lokniti say they believe that “India belongs to all religions equally, not just Hindus”, according to a report by

The survey, covering 10,019 respondents, was conducted between 28 March and 8 April across 19 states and found support for religious pluralism among. Only 11 per cent of the respondents said they believed “India belongs only to Hindus”, while nearly eight in every 10 Hindus spoke in favour of religious pluralism, the Scroll report said.

The survey comes against the backdrop of a recent circular from the Gujarat home department, stating that Hindus in Gujarat who wish to convert to Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism will need to seek prior approval from a district magistrate under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, as reported in various media outlets on 10 April.

The circular specified that Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were distinct from the Hindu religion as per the Act, and claimed that district magistrates were not processing applications for conversion to Buddhism in compliance with the Act.

The Lokniti-CSDS study also suggests decreasing public trust among respondents in the Election Commission of India (ECI), with 28 per cent saying they trusted the poll body to a “great extent” and 30 per cent opting for "some extent", down from 51 per cent and 27 per cent respectively from the Pre-Poll Study 2019, also by Lokniti-CSDS.

Even more tellingly, 45 per cent of respondents believed that it was "very" or "somewhat" likely that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be manipulated by the ruling BJP at the Centre.

Yesterday, 87 members of the Constitution Conduct Group (CCG), a body comprising several retired civil servants, wrote an open letter to the ECI stating, "The arrest of a senior Opposition political functionary at a juncture when the Lok Sabha elections had been announced and the Model Code of Conduct was in place reeks, to our mind, of deliberate, motivated executive action."

The letter also goes on to state, "The pattern of events over the past month calls for firm action from the ECI to quell rising public suspicion that the ECI is sitting silent while a politics of vendetta is being practised to deny opposition parties the freedom to actively participate in the election process."

In early February, Pune-based Congress leaders Abhay Chhajed and Ramesh Iyer filed a writ petition urging that the Supreme Court direct the ECI to implement the court's own 2013 order, as well as an expert committee report, recommending the use of upgraded EVMs.

On 25 January, veteran Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Digvijaya Singh held a press conference in Bhopal to demonstrate how an EVM-VVPAT system can be hacked.

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