New found Hindu love that is not

| | in Oped

With the Modi Government coming to power, the narrative of Indian politics shifted from fanatic secularism to soft Hindutva. This forced political parties to adopt ‘Hinduism’ for votes. But the voters are unlikely to be fooled by such gimmicks

In his book, The German Ideology, Karl Marx argues, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” Perhaps Karl Marx was not completely wrong, at least in the context of India.

After independence, intellectual spaces and institutions in the country came under stern retrospection of the Leftists/Marxists with the direct support of the then ruling party, the Congress.  The ideology of the Congress/Left became the hegemonic ideology and anyone, who dared to dissent or even slightly challenge their hegemony, was systematically buried in the course of history.

There was a kind of quid pro quo arrangment between the Congress and the Leftists, where academic institutions were handed over to the Left in return of providing intellectual legitimacy to the Congress in general and the first family of the party in particular.

This arrangement was a win-win situation for both and continued for decades till 2014, until the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  came to power under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when it won the General Election with a thumping majority.

This was, in the real sense, a true BJP Government or the Government of the party which is unapologetic about the Hindu culture and civilisation and directly challenges the dominant discourse of secularism (the previous one was the National Democratic Alliance Government where allies had considerable influence over the policy and position of the BJP).

The biggest achievement of the Narendra Modi Government has been the paradigm shift of the narrative of the Indian politics from ‘fanatic’ secularism to soft Hindutva. So much so that even the Left parties have been forced to prove their ‘Hinduness’, especially in States like Kerala and Tripura, where the party is in power.

The ‘proud Hindu’ image of Prime Minister Modi, which he displays from time to time through his temple visits and speeches, among others, has forced the Congress to adopt soft Hindutva by making party president Rahul Gandh  visit the temple and talk about Shiv-bhakti.

Interestingly, a competition to prove who is more Hindu has been triggered, and even the hardcore ‘champion’ of secularism has been forced to call himself a janeu-dhari Hindu. This is due to the rise of a ‘Hindu vote-bank’, sometimes unimaginable a few years ago.

It is the Hindu resurgence which has made all political parties as well as pandits reshape their strategy, terminology and methodology to understand the Indian polity and the society.

The paranoid among those, whose fiefdom is crumbling by the Hindu resurgence, is clearly visible and, therefore, what we witness is manufactured and fabricated debate about intolerance and Constitutional patriotism with Hindutva vs Hinduism being the latest one.

This facade of Hinduism being attacked and highjacked by the Hindutva (the supporters of BJP/RSS) elements and henceforth is required to be protected by the ‘liberal, secular hindus’ is systematically crafted to win back the battle of perception, lost after the change in the regime in Delhi.

‘Liberal’ Hindus allegedly feel that the essence of their ‘hinduism’ is being ‘crushed’ by hindutvawadis, who are now asserting their religion with great pride and comfort, majority of them being members of well-educated urban neo-middle class, coming largely from non-elite OBC groups.

This allegation is anything but true and those so-called liberals, with their new-found love for Hinduism, must be exposed. They are the very people who hated and felt ashamed of being a Hindu earlier. Everything related to Hindu civilisation was considered as backward, regressive and parochial. Hinduism was only looked through the prism of caste system and patriarchy.

This very Congress, which is now desparately seeking Hindu votes, in 2007, submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, stating that there is no evidence to prove the existence of  lord Ram.

Hindus, who espouse for Hindutva, are not fanatic or any less secular, they are just more pro-Hindu who refuse to follow the Leftist version of pseudo-secularism where being Hindu is considered as disgust and anti-modern.

Ordinary Hindus have realised their power of collective bargaining in the form of a vote-bank and have stopped taking sermons of those elites seriously.

The Congress, whose leader and first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru even refused to be associated with the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat, has now its leader writing books on why I am a Hindu.

To appease the minority, the party did not feel any hesitation in coining the notorious and baseless term ‘Hindu Terror’ and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi mentioning to the US Ambassador that Hindu terror is a bigger threat to India than Pakistan-based Islamic terrorism group Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.

The party, only after receiving a historic drubbing in 2014 election, finally decided to celebrate Hindu festivals like Janmashtami, Diwali and Mahashivratri while it had been regularly holding Iftar parties during the time of Ramzan. All these evidences are enough to prove that the new-found love for Hinduism is only an electoral gimmick. The party may be in a state of amnesia. People of the country are not.

(The writer is a research scholar in the school of Internation Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University)

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