INDIA in 2024: Know your enemy to fight it
The I.N.D.I.A. bloc has to recognise that it is fighting not just a right-wing political party but a global neo-liberal cabal, which works like the mafia
I.N.D.I.A.—the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance—the new umbrella of opposition parties, is in fact a theoretical construct in Indian politics.
So is the idea of ‘Hindutva’ a theoretical construct—except that it has captured the imagination of a section of people in India.
Even though the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has its roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and to some extent the Hindu Mahasabha, its present-day avatar has not evolved from early definitions or practices of Hindutva.
Those early ideas failed to capture the imagination of the people for nearly 70 years.
The Hindu Mahasabha was founded in 1915, the RSS in 1925. The centenary of the Hindu Mahasabha eight years ago went practically unnoticed; but you wouldn’t have missed the preparations for the upcoming Sangh centenary, as if it were a civilisational watershed for India.
In corporate fashion, the Sangh has taken over the Mahasabha and handed over the operations of the conglomerate to the BJP, itself an offshoot of the Sangh.
For almost 50 years, though, the Sangh and the Mahasabha were extremely hostile to each other; the Jan Sangh and Mahasabha had even fought elections against each other.
Up until 6 December 1992, when radical Hindutva hordes stormed and demolished Babri Masjid, this entire Hindutva conglomerate, if you will, had failed to fire the imagination of the masses.
But in six years after the demolition of Babri Masjid, the BJP was able to cobble together a coalition of 24 parties and seize power under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
At this point in its journey, the Sangh worldview still formed the party’s ideological core. This began to change with Narendra Modi taking over the reins of the state in 2014.
Where the RSS and Jana Sangh were more like movements, representing a conservative value system and right-wing economics, Modi’s BJP is more like a power machine in the mould of Nazi Germany.
The I.N.D.I.A. bloc has to recognise that it is fighting not just a right-wing political party but a global neo-liberal cabal, which works and operates like the mafia, backed by an international corporate military–industrial complex.
Uphill as it sounds, the I.N.D.I.A. bloc can do it. For, in electoral terms, the BJP still has only 31–37 per cent of the popular vote, mainly concentrated in the Hindi belt.
In other words, 63–69 per cent of the electorate does not approve of its politics.
The BJP is more like a regional party of northern Hindi provinces, not a national party in the true sense.
India, on the other hand, is a union of often-confounding diversity. If the I.N.D.I.A. bloc makes a credible pitch to preserve that national character, there is hope.
KUMAR KETKAR is a journalist and a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha. Views are personal