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Bottom-up Hindutva will defeat top-down attempts to ‘dismantle’ it

Author: Vijay Chauthaiwale
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: September 6, 2021
URL:       https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/bottomup-hindutva-will-defeat-top-down-attempts-to-dismantle-it-101630935643489.html

This ‘bottom-up movement’ has challenged the Left’s dominance over oppressed sections, over Gen-Next, and over political power

When the newly-formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh won three seats in the first Lok Sabha of Independent India, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the icon of liberalism, could not tolerate even this minuscule presence of the Jana Sangh. Labelling the Jana Sangh “communal” in the Lok Sabha, he vowed to crush it. Arguably, this is the first documented example of cancel culture in a democratic set-up.

The mindset of liberals has been the same since then, and a pattern repeats itself. First, they infuse borrowed metaphors such as “communal” and “fascist” through sympathetic media and academics, and then bracket every ideological opponent within these categories. They even castigated Jayaprakash Narayan as being a fascist because he collaborated with the Jana Sangh against Indira Gandhi, but did not use the label for Gandhi, who had imposed the Emergency.

Narendra Modi has won two successive Lok Sabha elections with an absolute majority. His national popularity ratings are the highest among world leaders. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in a dominant position in the better part of India. Hundreds of sociocultural organisations and millions of dedicated volunteers are propagating dharmic values across the world. These developments have created an existential threat to those who can be called “pseudo-liberals”. This, in turn, has resulted in hatred against Modi-Amit Shah as individuals, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP as institutions, and, subsequently, against everything that is remotely associated with Hindu civilisation. In a nutshell, this is what “Hinduphobia” is.

An upcoming conference, titled Dismantling Hindutva, should be examined in this context. Hinduphobia begins from the choice of dates of this conference. September 10, the first day of the conference, is Ganesh Chaturthi, an auspicious day for Hindus. The second day, September 11, is when jihadi terrorists demolished the World Trade Center 20 years ago, killing 2,000-plus innocent people. By choosing these dates, the organisers are trying to achieve twin objectives. First, to hurt Hindu sentiments, and, second, to whitewash memories of jihadi terrorism. One must understand that the choice of dates is not a mere coincidence but part of a carefully planned strategy.

Then, there is the endorsement by several prominent academic institutions in the United States (US). While some of the institutions in the original list have denied it (and demanded the removal the university logo from the conference portal), some others have said that it is not the university, but individual departments or faculty members who are participating. Others are still supporting the conclave under the guise of “academic freedom”. However, one must note that in the US, Hindu students are being systematically harassed and intimidated for their religious beliefs. Endorsement of an anti-Hindu conclave by these universities is likely to create an unsafe environment for Hindu students on the campuses.

Then comes the familiar narrative creation. First, frame Hindutva as anti-minorities; then, project it as against Dalits and oppressed sections of society; and, finally, bracket it into a single caste, “Brahmin”. None of this holds true on the ground. Dalits and Other Backward Classes have overwhelmingly voted for the BJP; they are participating in the RSS and affiliated organisations in large numbers; their economic upliftment has changed their social status in real terms due to various welfare programmes of the Modi government and Dalit entrepreneurs and innovators are now becoming job providers. But Left-liberals are in denial mode, unwilling to accept these realities.

For four decades after Independence, Left-liberals had a free run to set up their narrative. The Ayodhya agitation was the first significant challenge to the so-called “Nehruvian Consensus”. It has shaken each of their conventional beliefs. In a conversation between the then editor of The Times of India, Dileep Padgaonkar and Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul in July, 1993, Padgaonkar seemed to be more perplexed by the fact that those involved in Ram Janmabhoomi agitation were not bearded people with saffron robes (with ash on their foreheads) but clad in jeans and tee-shirts.

Naipaul’s response in the same conversation is relevant even today. He says “Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top... what is happening now is different. The movement is now from below”. The process, which started then, has picked up momentum now. That is the biggest worry for Hindutva’s opponents. This “bottom-up movement” has challenged the hegemony of the Left over oppressed sections of society, over Gen-Next, which combines modernity and belief in civilisational values, and over political power that sustained their brokership. The last weapon for them is to demonise Hindu civilisation under the guise of academic freedom, arts and culture. This is a textbook imitation of Joseph Goebbels.

To return to Nehru’s rhetoric of crushing the Jana Sangh, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee responded: “My friend Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru says that he will crush the Jana Sangh, I say I will crush this crushing mentality.” While the mentality of dismantling opponents has not changed even a little, civic society will dismantle this mentality of dismantling Hindutva. The Left will use whatever little is left at their disposal, make unholy alliances with anti-Indian or jihadi forces and thrust their views using the “top down” approach. They didn’t succeed in past and they won’t be successful now.

 

-Vijay Chauthaiwale is in-charge, foreign affairs department, BJP
 
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