In an insightful analysis of the recent electoral victories of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) across India, and in particular Bihar, Karan Bhasin put out an important feature: the break down of identity politics and the importance of "the welfare and delivery of public goods”.
There are always certain questions raised against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from his core constituency that he is not implementing the Hindutva agenda or worse, that he is neglecting it.
In reality, what Modi is doing is invigorating Hindutva.
An impoverished rural scenario with a corrupt polity is an ideal breeding ground for anti-Hindu mindset. For the last three centuries, when the colonial government created a quasi-‘native’ bureaucratic system, it was intentionally designed to be corrupt.
It was designed to create the impression of the colonial imperial machine as giving the people amnesties and liberation from their cultural shackles while in reality the machine was impoverishing the Indian heartland. For this system to be efficient, it should allow fringe benefits to the authorities — while the ‘native’ bureaucrats were loyal to the masters they could be corrupt, and cruel to the ‘uneducated’ Indian masses.
This again had an advantage. The British master could easily convince the ordinary Indians that their cultural nature is corruption. In fact, this ties in well with the evangelical notion that the pagan idolatrous Hindus are corrupt because their religion is morally deficient with respect to Christianity in particular and monotheistic religions in general.
The Nehruvian-Marxist inheritors of this colonial legacy who became the rulers of India for almost seven decades after Independence also realised the benefits this system could give. So they encouraged corruption and nepotism even as they talked rhetorically about freeing India from corruption and bringing egalitarianism.
Jawaharlal Nehru could sing paeans to socialism and secularism, characterising India as feudal and teeming with majoritarian communalism, marketing himself as the socialist democratic prince charming among the savages whom he had to civilise, while at the same time carefully promoting nepotism around him and very slyly promoting his daughter Indira Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi took this to the next level.
Caricaturing Stalinist terms in Indian democracy, she could talk about the communal fascist forces and go melodramatic about atrocities against the women and ‘Harijans’ even as she and her party minions promoted caste-vote bank politics like Kshatriya-Harijan-Adivasi-Muslim formulae.
Instead of bridging the differences, the Nehruvian polity deepened every social division. Ensuing violence and rampant corruptions could always be placed at the altar of Hinduism — from elusive ‘Brahminism’ to ‘caste Hindus’ to communal forces. Do not Hindus by nature placate their gods with demands and that is where corruption begins — went the argument. One can hear such wisdom even today.
With the coming of Sonia Gandhi, even small hesitations at negative stereotyping Hinduism, which existed in Nehruvian polity, vapourised.
The decade under United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government saw an increase in anti-Hindu polity in a radical way and also corruption. Still the blame was on the ‘system’ by which they actually meant the cultural system of India.
Thus, a Rahul Gandhi could say without blinking an eye that he wanted to change the system even as he sat there as a symbol of a totally anti-democratic dynasty system.
This is the invisible coda of anti-Hindu polity which has to be fought.
Narendra Modi has brilliantly identified this aspect.
When Modi ennobles the rural women with LPG cylinders and improves the rural hygiene scenario with toilets and increases the sense of safety and confidence in the rural women. Hence, what is happening is that Hindu society — in the largest sense of the term — becomes stronger.
Given the heavy colonial conditioning, a Hindu facing social discrimination and/or corruption is most likely to blame not only the politicians but also the entire Hindu culture and the nation for his or her sufferings.
The memes putting side by side the domestic abuse of women and the goddesses or a hungry child and a milk-abishekam of a Hindu deity, are results of our colonised pathological mindset. This is the unconscious deep conditioning that has entered into our popular culture.
If one looks at identity politics, one can see that it has a deeper anti-Hindu core to it. At the same time, every negative outcome of identity politics — in fact most of these outcomes are negative — gets blamed on Hindu Dharma. "Caste is responsible for the violence" and "Hinduism is responsible for the caste”.
Modi is reversing this.
A Hindu living a dignified life with corruption substantially reduced and living conditions equally increased, will more likely to gravitate towards Hindutva worldview than a Hindu living in a corrupt, insecure environment.
A leader of the saffron party shown deeply rooted in Hindu Dharma delivering the dignity of life to the rural Indians, freeing them from the problems of social injustice and bureaucratic corruption is as grand a Hindutva statement as the Prime Minister participating in the bhoomipoojan ceremony of Sri Ram Mandir.
Through the delivery of LPG to rural households, by improving the toilet facilities, by making every woman irrespective of caste or creed feel safe and secure, by direct bank money transfer and now through the campaign to make good drinking water available to all — Modi through all these achievements is making a grand, deep Hindutva statement.
And the genius of Modi is in transforming this achievement simultaneously into electoral victory over the Congress and other assorted anti-Hindu 'Breaking India' forces.
In fact, this Hindutva achievement is the foundational strength on which other symbolic and emotional Hindutva issues as well as vital issues like the change in our educational system and protection of Hindu temples from government mismanagement etc, have to be achieved.
Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.
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