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Friday, June 9, 2023

Has BJP abandoned Hindutva?

Yō dhruvāṇi parityajya adhruvaṁ pariṣēvatē.

Dhruvāi tasya naśyanti cādhruva naṣṭamēva hi.

He who gives up what is permanent for the impermanent, according to Chanakya, loses that which is permanent; doubtlessly, the impermanent one is destroyed. It appears that Bhartiya Janta Party is treading on a path different from the one quoted above from the Chanakya Niti by abandoning the aspirations of its core electorates.

The BJP officially adopted Hindutva as its ideology in its 1989 Palampur resolution. The BJP claims that Hindutva represents ‘cultural nationalism’ and its conception of ‘Indian nationhood’, but not a religious or theocratic concept.

The electoral graph of the BJP has been on the rise since the Palampur resolution. The party kept on passing resolution after resolution while being in opposition on agenda related to Hindutva causes such as Ramajanm Bhoomi, government control over temples, the ban on cow slaughtering, etc. All this rhetoric made the electorate accept the BJP as a right-wing Hindutva party championing Hindutva causes. It is the largest political party in the world today. It has also been harvesting massive electoral benefits by projecting an image of a pro-Hindu political party. It has formed governments in many states riding the Hindutva wave. Even Prime Minister Modi is projected as a ‘strong hardliner in Hindutva politics’ by the media.

Now, the Hindu voters are being taken for granted by the party. In a television interview, the incumbent BJP President, J. P. Nadda, went to the extent of distancing the party from Hinduvta by claiming that ‘Bhagwa’ and BJP were not synonymous. It has come as a bolt from the blue for those who inferred some religious meaning from the saffron colour of scarves, gamchas, caps, jackets, etc. donned by the party’s top leadership during election campaigns. The doctrine of ‘seeing is believing’ is apparently not true when it comes to the BJP.

In one of the interactions with BJP lawmakers last month, Nadda underlined the need to refrain from fostering narratives that could be perceived as ‘polarising’. He asked party Members of Parliament to stick to a discourse that centred around the Narendra Modi government’s development agenda. He also told the MPs that they should not position themselves as ‘experts on issues of race, religion, and culture’. Isn’t this an indication that the party has unofficially abandoned Hindutva, its cultural nationalism, from its agenda? Any discourse on cultural nationalism and a gag order on religion, culture, and race can’t go simultaneously.

The party has also planned to woo Muslim voters in a big way by organising ‘Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA Sammelan’ in various districts after Eid next month and the first convention will be held in Muzaffarnagar. The BJP is going to launch one more campaign, ‘Modi Mitra’, in 65 Muslim-dominated parliamentary constituencies where the Muslim population is more than thirty percent for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP opening its door to Muslims or working for the welfare of Muslims is not an issue. The issue is what is being done by the BJP government to protect and promote Hindu Dharma, culture, and practices. The electorate is silently analysing work on Hindu concerns vis-à-vis perceived ‘minority appeasement’ (triptikaran) going on in the name of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas’. And the incumbent government does not have much to claim as Hindu-specific actions.

Distorted history is still being taught in schools and colleges. Planned demographic changes through forced conversion, population explosion, and illegal immigration are going on in border areas. Rohingyas are being rehabilitated instead of deported, albeit with the intervention of courts. The government has put CAA and NRC in cold storage under the pressure of Islamists mobs and left-secular intelligentsia. No action has been taken so far to amend or repeal laws adversely affecting the interests of Hindus, such as the Places of Worship Act, the Minority Commission Act, the Waqf Act, and the RTE Act among others.

Minority appeasement seems to have picked up during the current Narendra Modi government. Doles to ‘samuday vishesh’ through multiple schemes and programmes have picked up. While in opposition, the party kept on demanding a ban on cow slaughtering. Now in the government, its PM Narendra Modi once hit out at cow vigilantes, and said, ‘gau rakshak business makes me angry’. The dichotomy between the party’s stands while being in opposition and in power has created disillusionment among some core voters of the party who have been with the party through thick and thin.  The party has openly moved towards wooing Muslims and taking up all types of appeasement measures at the cost of its core supporters.

It seems BJP has dropped Hindutva from its agenda for now, and will fight the next general election in 2024, thirty-five years after the Palampur resolution, on an agenda based on development and triptikaran. Does this constitue a tectonic shift away from Hindutva, or is it a tactical shift? Whether this policy will succeed or boomerang, only time will tell.

-By Dr. Govind Madhav

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  1. Modiji has become afflicted with the JAYEN virus. It causes politicians and intellectuals to believe the duplicitous praise of the western leaders and then change from nationalists to internationalists. They also harbour the fond hope that by pleasing their western heroes they may get the Nobel Prize(Peace, Literature). One of the most prominent Indian leaders infected with this disease was J.Nehru. Modiji is slowly turning into another J.N.


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