After the landslide and historic victory of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP in 2019 parliamentary polls, political pundits and scholars have critically reflected on and wrote several articles in the mainstream newspapers and elsewhere to understand and explain the second avatar of PM Modi-2.0 in the Indian politics with absolute majority. This time, the Modi led BJP has alone got 303 seats.
To note that after the first Prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Modi is third Prime Minister of India who has got a huge public mandate in the second consecutive terms. To explain the rise of the Modi juggernaut-2.0, opinions are sharply divided amongst the scholars and academics ranging from liberal-left to rightwing political dispensation. The BJP ideologues have argued that PM Modi has got a massive public mandate precisely because the present government has done an excellent performance in the last five years. For instance, by providing basic facilities like gas cylinder, health insurance policies, toilet facilities, water and electricity supply to the rural poor masses of India. In other words, for the BJP ideologues, Modi won elections because of the ‘politics of inclusive development’ not ‘politics of appeasements’ based on religion and caste as usually done by the so-called secular and social justice parties to get Muslims votes.
However, these claims made by the BJP’s ideologues have been widely challenged by Indian liberals and secular minded scholars. In this respect, they have written several articles to critique the arguments of corporate media and Hindutva ideologues.
For the liberal-left academics, it is entirely mistaken to believe that Modi won elections this time again on the inclusive development plank and addressed properly everyday problems of subaltern masses. For the left and progressive forces, Modi won 2019 parliamentary polls solely on the grounds of sharpening communal polarizations and demonstrated ‘muscular nationalism’, mainly after the attack of Pulwama and consequently Balakot airstrikes against the Pakistan. Moreover, for liberals, Modi has managed to win election because, he molded the election fight on the ‘individual personality’ and around the mazboot Sarkar (strong government, not majboor sarkar based on fragile alliances) happened usually in the presidential form of government as opposed to the tradition of parliamentary form of government. In a nutshell, this election moved around issues like national security, muscular nationalism, and communal polarizations and foregrounding the Hindu majoritarianism which pitted against minorities rather than inclusive development and slogan like sabka sath sabka vikas now added saka vishwas. For instance, contrary to the claim made by the BJP ideologues, the fact cannot deny that communal and emotive issues like the bogy of love-jihad, cow killings,gharwapsi, mob-lynching, hate crimes, national and ant-national debate, like tukde tukde gang, national security, terrorism and Islamophobia etc. have been raised by the BJP’s leaders including PM Modi for capturing the votes of the gullible subalternmasses rather than the notion of inclusive development, pro-poor polices.
For instance, putting the Pragya Singh Thakur as the BJP candidate from Bhopal, in this election can be taken as a case in point here. It is ironical to note that after giving controversial public statement on the Mahatma Gandhi and in the support of Nathu Ram Godse who assassinated Gandhiji. However, Singh this time won with a huge margin of votes against congress candidate and former Chief minister Digvijay Singh. These above instances could be seen the manner in which elections campaign have been deliberately designed and championed by the BJP star campaigner rather than raising the issues of livelihood and everyday problems confronted by voters.
Besides, PM Modi has successfully captured the imagination of the voters on the majoritarian Hindu nationalist plank rather than foregrounding the socio-economic and substantive issues. If one could see and reflect carefully on most of the Modi’s public speeches, which he has addressed during the 2019 poll campaigns, the word ‘vikas’ (development) has been hardly uttered by him barring few occasions .
To explain the rise of ‘ill-liberal’ and ‘ethnic’ democracy based on right-wing ‘populism’ French well known scholar like Christophe Jeffrelot and others have underlined that the upsurge of political right and conservative parties are currently seen across countries like the USA, Israel, Hungary, Brazil, and even Turkey etc. In all these countries, there is rise of ‘majority communities’ in the public and political sphere (See, The Indian Express, ‘A victory foretold’ May24,2019). These trends have also been noticed in 2014 and including 2019 general elections, when the RSS backed BJP has captured the political power at the centre. However, for some scholars, the Indian version of ‘Hindu majoritarianism’ backed and controlled by the RSS could not be equated with the right-wing and conservative forces elsewhere in the world. Having stated and explained briefly the rise of Modi juggernaut-2.0, let me now turn to discuss the possible ramifications on India’sminorities in years to come.
Since the rise of incipient nation-state, India’s Muslims had hugely suffered from the trauma of the partition and subsequent rise of communal violence, followed by riots which have continued unabated even today in the form of mob-lynching and hate crimes, love jihad,gharwapsi etc. To put it differently, since the partition, the future of minorities especially Muslims in India were replete with history of ‘riots after riots’.
To be precise here, Indian Muslims had faced unfettered communal attacks such as Bhagalpur riots (1987)Hashimpura incidents and Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 that followed several communal riots in different places could not be easily forgotten.More importantly, the Gujaratcarnage (2002) which took place during the tenure of Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat which had created ground for worsening further the conditions of Indian Muslims and hence one cannot deny the fact that the rich legacy of the plural culture of Indian secular society has been shattered down.
Ever since the rise of Hindu nationalist party- the BJP- RSS combine- in 2014 had captured the state power further added fuel to communal feelings and hatred among the Hindus against the Indian Muslims. But it is very sad to note that the so-called secular and progressive section of society have utterly failed to stop the nefarious act of ‘communal polarization’ unleashed by the right-wing forces in the last five years. To note that in the17th Lok Sabha elections result, the secular party like Congress electoral performance further diminished not even secured enough seats to become the opposition party in the parliament. Besides the Congress party,the dismal performance of the ‘Left Front’ in this election clearly shows that left forces are passing through the extremely difficult time since the history of independent India. However, the Mahaghatbandhan(Grand alliances) which was formed by three parties like SP-BSP-RLD in the case of UP has too utterly failed to secure seats and contain the Hindutva forces. It is sad to note that the RJD as credible secular force has been wiped out completely in this 2019 parliamentary poll.
Although, the representation of Muslims in this election has increased from 23 MPs in 2014 to 27 MPs in 2019; but current political forces dominated and guided by ideology of the Hindu nationalism which got a landslide victory is cause for deep worries as far as the fate of Indian Muslims is concern. However, PM Modi, after electoral result said that minorities should not feel insecure and assured that government is committed for the development of all section of society.
To sum up, thefact cannot deny that since independence for the first time Indian politics is currently passing through an extremely difficult time because we have no ideological alternative to fight against the Hindu majoritarinism. Theoretically speaking, as I said elsewhere, Hindutva juggernaut could be stopped in the long run, if we are really committed to carry-forward the radical legacy of the Bahujan icons like Periyar, Phule, Fatima sheikh and Babasaheb Ambedkar holistically in years to come.
The writer is aresearch scholar, University of Delhi