Narendra Modi and the Hindutva Agenda

The crowning of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s Hindutva poster-boy Narendra Modi as chief of the BJP’s electoral preparation committee for the 2014 Indian general elections has led to substantial political upheaval in India. The original poster-boy of hardline Hindutva in India, L.K.Advani dramatically resigned from all the office-bearer positions of the BJP only to later withdraw his resignations with the same flourish as it was tendered in the first place. Probably this was a face saving trick considering that Narendra Modi was hitting Advani’s Prime Ministerial aspirations for a six into the Indian Ocean.

Due to Narendra Modi, Janata Dal (United) split from the BJP in Bihar under the watchful eyes of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and former NDA convener Sharad Yadav. The clamour by Nitish Kumar to purge his JD(U) green from the saffron of the BJP was necessitated after seventeen years since the saffron is bound to turn deeper as the stern has been handed to the Hindutva-minded pioneer of India presently, Narendra Modi.

The Gujarat riots of 2002 under the Chief Ministership of Narendra Modi had shamed the entire nation as the country watched in shock at the utter collapse of law and order in Gujarat. Quoting from sources cited on Wikipedia, according to an official estimate, 1044 people were killed in the violence – 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire. Another 223 people were reported missing, 2,548 injured, 919 women widowed and 606 children orphaned. Unofficial estimates put the death toll closer to 2500. When missing people were declared dead after 7 years, total deaths went up from 1044 to 1,267. 536 places of worship were damaged: 273 dargahs, 241 mosques, 19 temples, and 3 churches. Muslim-owned businesses suffered the bulk of the damage. 61,000 Muslims and 10,000 Hindus fled their homes. The New York Times' Celia Dugger reported that witnesses were "dismayed by the lack of intervention from local police", who often "watched the events taking place and took no action against the attacks on Muslims and their property".

Despite such damning reports, Narendra Modi has never apologized or even offered apology publicly to the victims and the families who were affected by these riots. His Sadbhavana Sabhas have been aimed at white-washing the communal colour underneath his camouflage of nationalism driven secularism definition. Rather Narendra Modi is being hoisted in order to unfurl the Hindutva saffron on the mast head of the BJP as it readies to drive into the electoral battle of 2014 armed with Hindutva as the over-powering flavor of the season and Narendra Modi as the electoral chef, providing the right amount of spicy Hindutva communalism for polarizing the electorate. The BJP has long realized that talking about development might not bring votes. Just as it came to power in the late nineties of the last century, riding high on the caravan of Ayodhya and Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid, similarly it has to foist Narendra Modi as the Hindutva mascot and communalise and polarize the Indian electorate in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

It is often quoted by many that Narendra Modi is a star developer for Gujarat and therefore he deserves the Prime Ministership hat or atleast a fling at it. The sprawling business centers and swanky shopping malls of Ahmedabad coupled with the thriving business community in Gujarat provide that feel good factor for Modi. But most forget that Gujarat was prosperous before Modi, is prosperous notwithstanding the presence of Modi and would continue to be prosperous whether Modi stays in power or is ousted. Gujarat and Gujaratis have never needed the stamp of facilitation from Modi to turn the state richer. Rather the ghettoization of the Muslim community in Gujarat, the silent bylanes of Naroda Patiya and Teen Darwaza and Lal Darwaza give a different story. It is the story of an entire community which has been pushed to the fringes. The Hindutva hardline of Modi has come to roost. The BJP hopes to gain from the resultant polarization and probable stimulation of Hindutva communalism fanning in the country so that it can come to power, by hook or crook.

The split by Nitish Kumar is nothing but opportunism. He might term himself secular after seventeen years of marriage with the BJP just as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared his bones to be secular and split from the BJP in 2009 after nine years of marriage. Both Nitish and Naveen are opportunists who intend to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds so as to fulfill their myopic political needs. For them Hindutva is acceptable as long as a person like Narendra Modi or an incident such as Kandhamal riots in Odisha does not upset their cleverly crafted pseudo-secular imaging.

For Narendra Modi, firmly ensconced in the rider’s seat of the BJP, the only mantra of glory he can think of is to wave the Hindutva flag, generate communal heat and hope to bake his bread on the pyre of electoral heat by either psychologically posturing against the minorities or by physically getting the Sangh brigade to fan out with its Shakhas and try to create the hysteria of communal frenzy that BJP created in the nineties. He does not bother whether United States gives him a visa or not. He is not bothered whether people perceive him to be a fascist. He is only bothered about implementing the Hindutva experiment started in 2002 in Gujarat on the Indian map in 2014 and hopes to reap the benefits of communal electoral polarization. The challenge for the Indian electorate would be to decipher this Hindutva agenda of Narendra Modi, rise above partisan lines and defeat the communal forces pushing the right button on the EVMs come 2014. A failure to do so would push the country back by several decades as archaic ideas of Modi’s Hindutva will take root, threatening the secular fabric of the nation.

By : Dr. Sasmit Patra

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