New and improved Hindutva 2.0, coming soon
The Bharatiya Janata Party is on a high. It is basking in the afterglow of anti-corruption revolutions, financial scandals, inflation and the comeback of one of its most provocative Hindutva mascots – Ms. Uma Bharti.
In reality, the BJP has demonstrated how best to concede political space to civil society — to its own exclusion. As the main Opposition party, it should have been dictating terms on drafting an effective lokpal law – which seeks to install a national anti-graft ombudsman.
The BJP proudly claims its leader Lal Krishna Advani first highlighted the issue of “black money” – illegal cash supposedly stashed away in foreign banks — in May 2009. Despite this, it wasn’t BJP leaders who faced police batons on the issue. Rather than leading from the front, the BJP was merrily outsourcing all this to either Hindutva activists and their associates or simply to civil society.
Ms. Uma Bharti’s nomination as the chief of Uttar Pradesh, not merely her re-induction into the party, confirms that there is nothing new to look forward to in the BJP.
The BJP was seen moving towards a more secular platform in recent times. This swing was perhaps more notional than real. The party seemed to be realizing that Hindutva had proved to be a short-term asset but a long-term liability. But, with the return of the likes of Ms Bharti, that baby step will never get to become a sure-footed stride.
By getting a Hindutva-like bogey to raise legitimate political issues on its behalf, the BJP has showed its over-reliance on an extremist ideology and that Hindutva will always be its last resort.
For the Congress, this bitter harvest may have come from an inability to effectively run government. However, politically it looks much more agile and better prepared for the future. Even in a remote state like Assam, six Youth Congress candidates – all in their 30s and first-timers – were elected in state’s recent elections.
In the BJP camp, there’s hardly new blood or fresh talent. The return of an ardent acolyte of the RSS, at the expense of all that she stood for, certainly doesn’t leave room for the hope that the BJP would gradually emerge less strident.
Hindutva has no suitable place in modern India. The weaker Hindutva becomes, the stronger Hindu-Muslim relations will be. By resurrecting a Hindutva propagator, the BJP has reposed its faith in status quo, not change.