In 2014, Narendra Modi managed to tap into the imagination of public by exploiting the failures of a seemingly corrupt Congress government. He promised jobs and employment. To many, his new India was one which embraced modernity. Religious rhetoric was largely absent in the 2014 campaign. Hindutva ideologues as well as centrists voted for him.
India witnessed a different Modi in the succeeding 5 years. His acolytes portrayed him as a messiah for the Hindus. The Prime Minister himself didn’t shy away from talking about contentious issues such as the Ayodhya dispute. When Mr. Modi’s government took steps such as the abrogation of Article 370,the Hindutva Right wing(RW) recognized him as a man of action. Mr. Modi had also picked the extremist and hateful Hindutva ideologue Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of UP. A major turning point came towards the end of 2019 when the parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill. This act was largely portrayed as an attempt to undo the damage caused by partition. Non Muslim refugees from three neighboring Muslim majority countries were granted citizenship through this act. Students took to streets to protest against the exclusive and anti secular nature of the law. In Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, women led a protest against the CAA which became a regular topic of debate in national news channels.
The BJP tried to blame “anti India gangs” for the protest. It tried to fight the Delhi Assembly Elections on this issue. Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal refused to let BJP have the upper hand. He proved his Hindu credentials by reciting Hanuman Chalisa. This might have led to AAP’s electoral win but it marked a partial ideological win for the BJP. The BJP dictated the narrative and AAP simply accepted it.
This has been the case for a while now. Even the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi expressed no hesitation in flaunting his caste symbol. This led many Hindutva Right Wingers to recognize that a Hindutva alternative to Mr. Modi can be a real option.
The JNU based scientist Anand Ranganathan(who is regularly featured as a political commentator in national news channels) wrote a piece last year in the Right wing website OpIndia emphasizing on the need to have a right wing alternative to Mr. Modi. He started the piece by falsely claiming that the left has a “monopoly on the media narrative in India”. He argued that the Right works on “Darwinian principles”. What he meant by this is unclear but based on his past statements and the nature of the article, it is safe to assume that he’s talking about “survival of the fittest”. However, credible evolutionary biologists don’t use the term “social darwinism” except derogatorily. Social darwinism, in Ranganathan’s world, leads to individualism. This is why the Right has not been able to build an ecosystem(herd). This is scientifically erroneous. He’s referring to “Laissez faire social darwinism” propagated by the likes of Francis Galton. What he doesn’t mention is the fact that there’s a thing called “collectivist darwinism” which the Nazi biologists believed in. Social darwinism has also been used to support anarcho communism(Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution) . What’s relevant to us is that none of those ideas have scientific merit. Nevertheless, every single one of those ideas has been used to justify fascism, totalitarianism and Eugenics. Ranganathan thinks that the right has successfully “demolished the perfidy of the left”. Therefore, its time for the right to target Modi instead.
OpIndia’s CEO Rahul Roushan agrees that the “next battle battle of ideas should be between various shades of the ‘Right Wing’in India.” The aim is to make the left “even more irrelevant.”
The Hindutva Right wing opposes Modi because it sees him as being insufficiently radical. It wants him to change history books,implement strict laws banning cow slaughter and bring anti conversion laws. They will not stop until every party adopts a version of Hindutva ideology.
The problem with this is quite simple:- it would ensure that political parties fight solely for power and not for ideologies. With enough propaganda, the masses will be convinced that Hindutva is morally superior. The leap to totalitarianism from this is extremely small. The philosopher Bertrand Russell rightly pointed out that “There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”(An outline of intellectual rubbish). Only one version of Hindutva will be formally codified. A government which has managed to brainwash the entire country will not hesitate to choose the most extreme version. This process has already started. BJP’s young rock-star MP Tejasvi Surya has conflated India with PM Modi. He thinks the BJP “should unapologetically be a party for Hindus.” The fact that he thinks it isn’t gives us a glimpse into how extreme his views are. The portion of the Hindutva Right that sees through the personality cult of Mr. Modi is largely extreme.
The reason I feel the need to use the term “Hindutva Right Wing” instead of only “Right Wing” is the fact that a large portion of those who oppose Hindutva are conservatives. The opposition to the Hindutva forces consists of individuals belonging to a diverse range of ideologies including but not limited to liberalism, fiscal conservatism, democratic socialism as well as extreme forms of Communism. Psychological studies have shown that our political beliefs are influenced by our temperament. They aren’t necessarily in our control. It is for this reason that we need both conservatives and liberals. It keeps a democratic society stable and functioning. The monopoly of a totalitarian ideology like Hindutva over our country will only lead to undesirable and irreversible damage. Our country needs a strong opposition. An opposition that can formidably challenge Mr. Modi. However, this opposition must come from those who seek to uphold true liberalism, secularism and constitutional values.