In the nine years that have passed since the BJP-led Modi government assumed office, there has been little or no opposition to the Hindutva fascist doctrine at work in India. This has allowed the government to implement most of its reactionary agendas and transformed India into a party state. The lack of political opposition has provided Hindutva with the opportunity to remain as a dominant political force, effectively concealing the glaring failures of the Modi government on every front. The Indian National Congress, as the main opposition party, has failed to counter the BJP effectively. Despite their ideological differences, their economic policies are indistinguishable from each other. Additionally, many regional political parties, apart from the left parties and RJD, have formed direct or indirect alliances with the BJP, further aiding the growth of Hindutva forces. After the 2019 general elections, the BJP managed to govern the country with just 37.4% of the votes, while the National Democratic Alliance, led by the BJP, secured nearly 45% of the vote. It is within this context that we need to analyse the foundations, sustainability, and future of the ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance’ (INDIA).
The twenty-six opposition parties have come together to form the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) with the goal of challenging the BJP in the 2024 general elections. This unity among the opposition parties is a much awaited and significant step towards safeguarding India’s present and future as a constitutional, secular, and liberal democracy. While the electoral alliance has the potential to defeat the BJP, it is essential for the opposition parties to establish an ideological core and coherence to effectively counter Hindutva politics. Currently, these opposition parties lack a common ideological foundation or common minimum programme to combat the BJP and its reactionary Hindutva agenda. Some of the political parties within the alliance hold outright reactionary stances, characterised by regional chauvinism and a lack of progressive principles. For the long-term viability of the INDIA as a political platform, it becomes imperative to establish a common ideological coherence based on Indian constitutional values. By doing so, the alliance can strengthen democracy in India and present a unified front against the divisive and authoritarian forces of Hindutva politics.
The future of the ‘INDIA’ alliance can draw its political missions, visions, and agendas from the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, which promises to transform India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. It also pledges to secure social, economic, and political justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship, equality of status and opportunities, and promote values of fraternity and dignity for all individuals. These values are central to the unity and integrity of India, as well as the deepening of its constitutional democracy and the protection of democratic rights for all citizens, irrespective of their backgrounds.
Indian sovereignty has been shaped by its freedom struggle, which vehemently rejected Yankee imperialism, European colonialism, and their racist ethnonationalism. For the ‘INDIA’ alliance as a political platform, it is imperative to reject Hindutva and its commitment to European ethnonationalism, as they clash with India’s multicultural ethos. Instead, the alliance should uphold the values of internationalism and demonstrate solidarity with the marginalised and persecuted, making them core values of Indian sovereignty. Furthermore, the ‘INDIA’ alliance should strive to expand the concept of sovereignty beyond just being a nation state, to encompass the sovereignty of its citizens. This means ensuring that all citizens have equal rights, opportunities, and representation, irrespective of their backgrounds, and guaranteeing their participation in the democratic process. By adopting such principles and values, the ‘INDIA’ alliance can pave the way for a more inclusive and just society, standing against divisive ideologies and promoting the true spirit of Indian sovereignty that is rooted in freedom, equality, and solidarity.
The BJP has not only adhered to but also expanded the neoliberal economic policies of the Indian National Congress. Additionally, most regional political parties and political outfits have also embraced neoliberalism as a means to achieve economic growth without critically examining its unequal outcomes for Indian citizens. However, these neoliberal policies have essentially facilitated a wealth transfer from the people to the crony capitalists associated with both the BJP and the Congress Party. Consequently, public resources have been diverted into the hands of Indian and global corporations, perpetuating income inequality. Furthermore, the implementation of neoliberal economic policies has had detrimental effects on various sectors in India. It has led to the destruction of agriculture, industry, and state-led educational and health infrastructure across the country. To ensure economic justice and uphold socialistic values that prioritize the welfare of all citizens, the ‘INDIA’ political alliance needs to unequivocally reject the neoliberal market economy. Instead, the alliance should advocate for a welfare state that works towards the betterment of all people in India, providing equitable access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. By rejecting neoliberalism and promoting a socialistic approach to economic policies, the ‘INDIA’ alliance can address the pressing issues of income inequality and foster a more inclusive and fair society for all.
The Brahminical social order, built on a rigid caste hierarchy, not only serves as the foundation of Hindutva politics but also poses a significant obstacle to achieving social justice in India. This caste-based society marginalizes a majority of the population and undermines the very idea of political justice that should be based on equal citizenship rights for all, which is essential for the advancement of democracy and economic justice in the country. For the ‘INDIA’ political alliance to create a more just and inclusive society, it must develop policies with unwavering commitment to combat caste discrimination. This entails reinforcing and expanding affirmative actions at every level of state and government functioning. Such actions are crucial to achieving social, economic, and political justice, fostering the deepening of democracy, and ensuring equal citizenship rights for all individuals in India. By actively addressing the issues of caste-based discrimination and implementing affirmative measures, the ‘INDIA’ alliance can work towards dismantling the violently oppressive caste system and fostering a society that values and upholds the principles of equality and social justice. This approach will not only strengthen democracy in India but also create an environment where every citizen can thrive and contribute to the nation’s progress, regardless of their caste or social background. The patriarchal Hindutva is detrimental to the empowerment of women. It is central to uphold gender justice and equality to mainstream gender in development. Equal accessibility and availability of resources and opportunities are central to egalitarian and sustainable development of India as a country.
The exclusionary and divisive nature of Hindutva politics has severely eroded the foundational ideals of fraternity, liberty, individual dignity, and solidarity in India. By promoting a monolithic linguistic, cultural, social, and religious outlook, Hindutva politics undermines the rich diversity that defines India’s national identity. The notions of Hindu, Hindi, and Hindutva can never serve as unifying forces for the nation’s unity and integrity. Instead, they exacerbate divisions and hinder the country’s progress. To ensure the survival of India as a diverse and inclusive nation, it is essential to confront and defeat the monolithic ideology propagated by Hindutva politics. For the ‘INDIA’ political alliance to have a sustainable future, it must unequivocally reject the monolithic ideology of Hindutva. Embracing diversity, promoting inclusive policies, and upholding the principles of pluralism and secularism are essential for the alliance’s success and the well-being of the nation. By standing against divisive ideologies and fostering an environment that celebrates India’s diversity, the ‘INDIA’ alliance can lay the foundation for a more united and prosperous future for the country. This approach is critical for safeguarding the core values of India and sustaining the alliance as a force for positive change and progress in the nation.
Coalition electoral politics can play a significant role in strengthening the processes of decentralization and deepening of democracy in India. By forming alliances across regional, religious, cultural, social, and sexual orientation lines, coalition politics can empower citizens and ensure their voices are heard in the governance of the country. This approach promotes inclusivity and equal representation for all, aligning with the ideals outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution of India. To defeat Hindutva and its ideological foundations, the ‘INDIA’ political alliance must avoid falling into the trap of opportunistic and populist politics solely for electoral gains. Instead, it should focus on using coalition politics as a tool for social, political, and economic transformation, advocating for policies that prioritize the welfare and development of all citizens.
The potential for transformation lies in the ability of the ‘INDIA’ alliance to address the root causes of Hindutva and challenge the divisive ideology espoused by the BJP. To achieve this, the alliance must maintain an unwavering commitment to inclusivity, peace, and egalitarian development for all, fostering a society that values diversity and upholds the principles of social justice. The future and sustainability of the ‘INDIA’ political alliance depend on its ability to remain true to these core principles, working collectively towards an inclusive and progressive India that benefits both its people and the planet. By doing so, the alliance can pave the way for positive change and advancement in the country, transcending divisive ideologies and creating a more harmonious and prosperous society for everyone.
The electoral defeat is the first step to halt the forward march of Hindutva and its crony capitalism in India. India and its citizens eagerly await the ‘INDIA’ political alliance’s promises and commitments to put an end to the despairs caused by Hindutva and its fascist upheavals.
Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK