Photo by Nand Kumar/PTI
Yogi Adityanath takes oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 19

Strident Hindutva in Uttar Pradesh designed to divert attention

Anti-Muslim rhetoric is just a diversionary tactics to draw attention away from RSS-BJP’s agenda as well as bread and butter issues. Yogi Adityanath is its best bet for continuing with the charade

Although the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has abandoned the façade of a cultural organisation, with RSS pracharaks becoming the Prime Minister and chief ministers in states, several well-meaning friends continue to see it as a generally benign association, barring its virulence towards Muslims and Christians. Otherwise, they seem to believe, there is no problem with the RSS vision of India.


The fact is that RSS remains committed to turn India into a Brahmanical Hindu State. Anti-minority rhetoric by RSS/BJP leaders in the recently concluded UP elections was merely designed to divert attention from issues of poverty, unemployment, violence against women, absence of educational and health services etc. The hate propaganda was aimed at conveying to the Hindu electorate that Muslims (and Christians) posed a greater internal threat than the social and political deprivations of the Hindus and Muslims alike.


To rationalise Yogi Adityanath’s ascendence to his being the crudest and most poisonous anti-Muslim leader is only a small part of the story.


It must also be noted at the outset that despite all kinds of Muslim-bashing in UP elections, the landslide winners could secure only 39.7% of the votes polled. Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Congress together secured more than 50% of the polled votes and at the macro level 60.3% voters of UP voted against the Hindutva dispensation.


The truth is that RSS/BJP know it well that they cannot fulfil all those promises which they made to the new coalition of Hindu castes which voted the BJP to power. Any sense of betrayal of its ‘vote-bank’ over its failure to fulfil promises can only be camouflaged by a higher dose of Hindutva politics.


Mahant Adityanath with his impeccable zeal and commitment for Hindutva is clearly the best bet for accomplishing this task. Adityanath combines two most aggressive streams of Hindutva, the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS. He combines in him Savarkarite and Golwalkarite hatred for democracy, secularism and an all-inclusive India.


He is a born dictator and relishes slogans like ‘Poorvanchal maen rehna hae tau Yogi-Yogi kehnaa hogaa’ in tune with the RSS preference for ‘one leader’ as ruler. He personifies opposition to all symbols of all-inclusive India and it was natural that after declaration of his nomination as CM of UP in Lucknow, there were only saffron flags which were waved.


Adityanath’s saffron attire also helps RSS in propagating its casteism-laden Hindutva. The role model is the BJP winner from Iglas reserved constituency in Hathras, Rajveer Diler. A Dalit with family links to the RSS, during the campaign he would not only sit on the floor but also use his own steel glass that he carried to drink water/tea when he visited homes of upper-caste voters.


Diler, a Valmiki, justified his faith in old-world casteist practices by saying ‘Main apni maan maryada khatm nahin kar sakta. Zamana chahe badalta rahe.’ (I cannot break away from tradition. Let the world change, I won’t). With Mahant Adityanath as the political ruler, Dalits are expected to follow Manusmriti and Diler will no longer be an exception but the rule.


Adityanath’s persistent aggressive calls for India free of Muslims, ban on cow-slaughter (nobody asks him why it continues in many states ruled by RSS/BJP), conversion of Muslims/Christians to Hinduism and demand that Muslims should show their loyalty by chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ (which Hindutva leaders/cadres never chanted against the British rulers) only adds to his aura. This politics of the dangerous ‘other’ is expected to help in reining in the disgruntled Hindus.


Adityanath heading the UP State, which shares a long border with Nepal also sends a favourable signal to pro-king elements there. Adityanath and his math have historically rendered great support to Hindu kings of Nepal. According to them the King of Nepal is the King of Hindus across the world. Hindu Mahasabha and RSS both have been demanding restoration of monarchy in Nepal and its return to a Hindu State.


Those who are shocked by BJP’s choice of Adityanath as chief minister betray their ignorance about the Hindutva game-plan about India. This juggernaut is on since 1967-68, when parties upholding democratic-secular polity joined hands with the RSS in running governments in provinces and at the Centre. It got further impetus in 1997-98 when Gujarat was turned into a ‘laboratory for Hindutva.’ Narendra Modi’s ascendancy and his declaration that he was a ‘Hindu nationalist’ in 2013 completed the circle.


The problem with most of the ‘shocked’ friends is that they believe that Adityanath’s crowning is an aberration and not continuation of Hindutva politics which wants to undo present India.


We should however rejoice over the fact that in elections of 2014 and 2017, the Hindutva camp were able to secure around between 30% and 39% of the total votes. In UP the vote share in 2017 actually declined from 2014. Clearly a majority of the Hindus are still not swayed by their rhetoric. Hindutva aggression actually shows that Hindus are not falling into the Hindutva trap. Unfortunately, those opposed to Hindutva fail to challenge the anti-national philosophy and deeds of RSS due to their sheer ignorance.

Shamsul Islam is a former Professor of University of Delhi.

This is an edited excerpt of the article that first appeared in countercurrents.org. The full article can be read here.

This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own.