[Editorial Analysis] Hindutva 2.0 is in crisis

Mains Paper 1: Society

Prelims level: Hindutva

Mains level: Secularism, regionalism and communalism

Context

• The idea that the construction of a controversial temple at the site of a demolished mosque can lead to the formation of capital in the country could be intriguing for the uninitiated.

• For the proponents of Hindutva, however, this notion is integral to their idea of development and progress.

• The proposition is that an aggressive assertion of the collective Hindu identity is an essential precondition for India’s development.

• This is a point that pro-market supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi self-deceptively overlooked ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, though he himself had made his position clear.

• Asked whether he was “pro-business” or a “Hindu nationalist,” he said in 2013: “There’s no contradiction between the two. It’s one and the same image.”

Three contradictions

• This has been a core component of Hindutva thought for decades, it was Mr. Modi’s reign in Gujarat that made it acceptable, and popular.

• If enough people still thought Mr. Modi’s 2014 campaign was jettisoning Hindutva for development, it was convenient for him.

• Hindutva politics over the years had suffered from three inherent contradictions that stunted its growth: friction between pro-market segments and Hindu traditionalists in the Indian right wing; contradictory requirements of the centralised, disciplinarian, ideologically rigid core of the RSS and building a mass mobilisation through a political wing; and consolidating a Hindu vote bank among a people hierarchically and oppressively divided by the caste system.

• That is Hindutva 2.0 where material progress is married to a religious social agenda; disciplined organisation and mass mobilisation are balanced; and the lower rungs in the caste hierarchy are enlisted as part of an omnibus Hindu identity in which they are offered social acceptance and political representation.

• All these factors that worked in Mr. Modi’s favour are now unravelling, and Hindutva 2.0 is in crisis.

Caste break-up

• Enrolment of a critical mass of Dalits and backward caste populations into the Hindutva politics that is widely perceived as a project for the nourishment of upper caste dominance was Hindutva 2.0’s second success.

• Mr. Modi presented himself as a lower caste leader and sought to appropriate Dalit and backward caste figures ranging from B.R. Ambedkar, Sree Narayana Guru to Ayyankali and even Mata Amritanandamayi into his politics.

• The idea of Hindutva is based on the premise that there is a collective interest for the community common to all caste groups.

• Given the social, economic, linguistic, cultural diversities within Hindus, a common thread that could unite them all is the image of a common enemy. Cow protection has been the convenient tool here.

• While Hindutva 2.0 offered a lot of rousing rhetoric for Dalits and backwards as quoted above, it also demonstrated an unprecedented hostility towards autonomous lower caste mobilisations.

• Brazenly partisan police action and the continuing police oppression of Dalit groups which organised protests, such as at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018, are signs of this intolerance of lower caste mobilisation against the Hindu right. The BJP governments in power also emboldened sections of the upper castes to seek to recapture the space lost to lower caste politics in earlier years.

Way forward

• The iron grip of the RSS on the BJP, and the former’s search for ideological purity have not only contributed to constant friction between the two, but historically also limited the electoral successes of Hindutva.
• The RSS did not entirely trust Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was often accused of being a closet Nehruvian, the more ideologically pure BJP leaders did not have any significant mass appeal.

• With Mr. Modi at the helm, Hindutva 2.0 overcame this dilemma, combining mass appeal and uncompromising Hindutva credentials in his persona.

• The synergy between the RSS and the BJP has never been stronger than its is today. But this disciplined march towards the goal of a Hindu Rashtra under the command of a ‘strong leader’ has created a new friction within.

• BJP legislators, Ministers and leaders who feel suffocated and powerless, despite being technically part of the ruling dispensation, now have a limited stake in Mr. Modi’s continuation in power.

• A large number of sitting members of the Lok Sabha are likely to be denied tickets in 2019, if Mr. Modi continues on the ‘Gujarat model’ for beating anti-incumbency.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) What does Section 124A of Indian Penal Code deal with?

(a) Atrocity against women

(b) Sedition

(c) Crime for demanding dowry

(d) Atrocity against SC/ST

Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s winning formula of 2014 is under severe stress; can he refresh it?

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