We no longer hear of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. The neo-refrain is that Hindutva & Hinduism is in danger at the hands of an invisible force. Will such discourse prove counterproductive?
The gloves are off. No longer do we hear any progressive slogans like “Acche Din ayenge”. Instead BJP seems to have woken up to its old time gimmickry of portraying Hindus as victims in a clear divergence of its promise of inclusiveness. The undercurrents of a party in panic can be felt in the manner of nominating Pragya Singh Thakur as its candidate from Bhopal; a consciously tactical shift to polarize the electorate on the basis of religious sentiments. Not that BJP has been apologetic about it; On the contrary, it has decided to brazen it out. With the opposition leveling charge of her being convicted once & who continues to face the investigation in the Malegaon blast case, the BJP including its PM hopeful, Modi have come out in strong support of her candidature, citing implausible & untenable references to Batla house encounter to justify Sadhvi Thakur’s inclusion in the electoral fray. That the much touted holistic agenda of development, nation first, jobs, healthcare, infrastructure, GDP can wait & give way to a pathetic electoral time rhetoric that divides people right in the center speaks volumes of the real intent of our politicians.
The game is simple. BJP in its desperation to hold on to its majoritarian appeal wishes to bring ‘Hindu terror’ into the electoral discourse and rouse Hindu anger against her rival for the seat, Digvijaya Singh, in particular, and against the Congress, in general. Many would argue that by indulging in such wanton communalistic ploy, BJP may rile its many urbane supporters who have kept lot of faith & who respect the party for its perceptibly different image. In resorting to its old time yet failed philosophy of seeking votes in the name of religion, BJP may have done the biggest disservice to their core vote base. Even the choice of candidates has got to do a lot with BJP’s thinking. Political pundits are aghast at some of the strong likely to win contestants being ignored this time round. Be it the Joshi, Advani, Yashwant trio or the Shatrughan, Shanta, Shourie, BJP has displayed absolute craziness about the manner it has sought to pick its candidates for the fray.
So when a Sadhvi Pragya Thakur vents her ire & boastfully settles down, self-complimenting herself for the curse she thought she brought on brave heart Hemant Karkare, she has displayed absolute insensitivity to the bereaved in particular & to the nation in general. The country is outraged by such explanation by BJP’s Bhopal candidate. For a party that wears nationalism & patriotism on its sleeves, such callous comments have bared open its pseudo-love for the martyrs & the country. That BJP can field such a candidate for elections & also be seen by the electorate as champion party with champion values, such slight of the national hero shall have severe consequences for the party. Coming from a Sadhvi Pragya whose name in vernacular means Prajna or deep consciousness, one wonders if this is what the saffron ideologues meant by nationalistic jingoism?
One is alarmed by the sudden shift of the saffron party to such non- yielding tactic. By painting the entire Hindu community as victims as much as it seeks to damn theopposition for brandishing the entire community of Hindus as terrorists, BJP has set upon a dangerous path. By nominating a saffron-clad holy woman, who is willing to blast her enemies to bits, according to the charge sheet for the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast for which she is being tried, the BJP seeks to play on the root paranoia that drives the Sangh Parivar that Hindus are under assault in their own land. In Hind mythology though anyone who has assumed a cult status of a Sadhvi or saint (Who has renounced all material world), jumping into the electoral fray runs parallel to such purity of thought. People with any political affiliation can be anything but a saint or a Sadhvi.
To stereotype a terrorist or a sympathizer shall be a sin to say the least. We as a society shall be committing a crime if we were to brand any community a terrorist community or by according them a victim status. ‘One summer doesn’t a swallow make’. The analogy one can draw from such instances is that ‘A single sinner sinks the boat’. However for the majority community, this puts a major strain on those who claim their support for the BJP. Their premise is that BJP means corruption-free development. The modern day BJP presents itself like a confused hero & a brute villain, On one hand it talks on inclusiveness, on the other, a disfigured, inhuman contortion of hatred.
Back in 2014, BJP succeeded in playing up to the mood of the people. However this time round, it seems to have confused a lot of things. So whether or not the PM Modi’s latest ‘Chowkidar’ tagline was drummed up little early in the day & will it help him get back to power, the answer may be NO. Because by the very definition of a ‘Chowkidar’ or watchman of the nation, you have to be living the farthest from even a speck of speculation of wrong doing or corruption; But can we say soin the wake of a heinous Pulwama Terror attack or defrauding by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi ?
History repeats itself. Are we looking at a repeat of 2004 when BJP had got the timing wrong with its election campaign? You may recall the BJP Government’s “India Shining” campaign then. It failed because the then NDA Government not just aired the campaign much in advance, it also blasted 52 ads with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s picture, boasting about its contribution to the various sectors of the economy. The number of ads created fatigue and the campaign ultimately backfired.”
The case in point is if Modi & his think tank have got the messaging wrong this time? Have they spoiled their own game by stretching the Hindu victim card & Hindutva in danger argument too far? While the same tactic of a Hindu revivalism, may have helped it bolster its tally from 2 to 85 & then to 161, this may no longer be relevant to India & Indians of 2019. What was then seen from the prism of a reactionary movement to Nehruvian secularism that defined this nation-state for over four decades, it has lost its sheen in modern day politics that craves for jobs, equality, non-discrimination, opportunity, education, good life & healthcare for all. Neither Ram Mandir nor cultural nationalism bordering on jingoism has any appeal left to any of the youthful nation that India is. Hence this journey from religious revivalism to majoritarianism comes with innate signs of a potential advance towards absolutism.