What's wrong about thinking communally?

Muslims in India are mostly ghettoized. That once comrade in arms of Narendra Modi, Pravin Togadia, is now trying to prevent a Muslim homeowner into his recently purchased house in Bhavnagar, because he is a Muslim. He wants him to go back to his ghetto. So why shouldn’t a Muslim think in his or her quam’s self interest? If you want Muslims to think in terms of the larger collective interest you will need to first get them out of their kasbahs, mohallas and ghettos, and treat them as one of us. The fact is that we don’t do that with anybody. Ask any northeasterner. Ask any adivasi. Ask any madrasi. As a nation we seem largely incapable of living with diversity, which is odd considering there is no other nation in the world with such a wealth of diversity. 

But how is her message communal, in the colloquially understood sense of the word? If these interests are served by voting for the BJP, as many Muslims do, so be it. There is nothing wrong if Muslims vote as a group. Farmers do. Doctors do. Some Hindus do. Hindi haters do. Muslim haters do. Ex-servicemen do. Industrialists do. (Look at them falling over each other fawning over Modi.) Shopkeepers do. Dalits do. Adivasis do. We all do because we all also have some smaller identities under the Indian umbrella also. 

The BJPs appeal is quite vocally sectarian. The Alkalis are a sectarian party. The UP and Biharparties are entirely caste based. And their leaders target followings with distinct messages. And so what’s wrong if someone says that Muslims must vote in their interests and “think communally” while doing so. 

Incidentally, the word communal is misused in India. To be communal is to think of society as a whole. According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Communalism is a term with two distinct meanings: (1) "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation"; (2) "the principles and practice of communal ownership". Politically, communalists advocate a stateless, classless, decentralized society consisting of a network of directly democratic citizens' assemblies in individual communities/cities organized in a confederal fashion. 

The word we want or don't want is Sectarian. Sectarianism is bigotry, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between different denominations of a religion, or religions or sects. The underlying basis of these differences is invariably theological or ecumenical. 

"The ideological underpinnings of attitudes and behaviors labeled as sectarian are extraordinarily varied. Members of a religious or political group may believe that their own salvation, or the success of their particular objectives, requires aggressively seeking converts from other groups; adherents of a given faction may believe that for the achievement of their own political or religious project their internal opponents must be converted or purged."

To be sectarian is to think on the basis of professed religion. The VHP is sectarian. The RSS is sectarian. The Bajrang Dal is sectarian. The MIM is sectarian. The Jamat is sectarian. The Muslim League is sectarian. The Akali Dal is sectarian. I wouldn't mind it one bit of these crazies became more communal and espoused more communalism.