N. Vittal

Prabhu Chawla in an insightful article titled “Expect Congress- BJP tussle for Hindutva in 2019” published in the New Indian Express dated 24th December 2017, begins by saying, “Secularism is dead.  The epitaph of pseudo-secularism has been written in the palimpsest of Indian politics.  The atavistic war cry ‘Long live pluralism’ and ‘Nationalist Hindutva’ resounded in the Gujarat verdict with the message that elections can’t be won by Muslim bashing or Muslim appeasement alone.  Nor can political parties triumph by engaging in competitive religiosity.” 

Then he goes on to analyze what will happen in 2019 general elections and ends by saying, “it can be safely assumed that the current global outlook towards terror spilled over to the Gujarat battle of ballots.  The poll rhetoric started with development but degenerated into forcing the peoples’ choice between Hindu Hriday Samrat Modi and Rahul, the new practicing Hindu.”

I am an admirer of Prabhu Chawla for his mature perceptions on current affairs. Nevertheless, I am afraid I cannot share this perception of his.   I have a totally different expectation of what is likely to happen in the 2019 elections.

 From a broad perspective, the position as I see is as follows:

The inspiration for throwing out the British Rule and making Bharata Mata independent came from the 19th century reformation arising from the impact of British colonial rule in Bengal.  The   social reformist movement of men like Raja Ram Mohan Roy who tried to remove the evil practices like Sati and the harsh treatment of widows which had crept into the Hindu societywas one of the most significant developments.   A greater impact came towards the end of the 19th century, thanks to the vision of Ramakrishna Paramahansa and his famous disciple Swami Vivekananda.  In a sense, we can trace the Indian struggle for independence  to  the moment when,  Narendra Dutta,  the young inquisitive  graduate met  Ramakrishna Paramahansa with a question, ‘Have you seen the God?’  The diksha which Narendra Dutta received from Ramakrishna Paramahansa transformed him into Vivekananda and ultimately led to a fine synthesis of the India’s spiritual tradition with the modernism represented by the British.  Inspired by the activities of the Christian Missionaries, Vivekanda set up the Ramakrishna Mission and blazed an excellent trail in social work and health and above all education.

Even more important, Vivekananda himself was an inspirer for many great men like Mahatma Gandhi. The RSS was also inspired by the impact Vivekananda had on Guruji Golwalkar.

 Unforunately, the real politics of colonial rule compelled the British, during the freedom struggle,  to adopt the strategy of ‘divide and rule’ and promote the idea of Hindus and Muslims constituting two different nations leading to the partition of the country in to India and Pakistan when we became independent. 

The role of the majority community was perceived to be constantly reassuring the minorities especially the Muslims.  This became the mainstream thinking in the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle. This approach continued for 70 years.

 In the general elections of 2014  Narendra Modi was able to perform a political  miracle and dramatically shift the ideology of governance  to the right.  For the first time, the BJP which is a party which is rooted in the right of centre became the ruling party. The elections of   2019 will provide at the national level, proof whether the shift is for a long term or just a flash in the pan. 

As pointed out by Prabhu Chawla, the concept of Muslim bashing will not work.  Same is the strategy of promoting fear among minorities of being dominated by the majoritarian approach.  As I see it, 2019 may represent for the first time that India becoming a modern nation in the sense that religion is recognized as individual and purely a private matter and when it comes to governance and politics, it will be the issues of social justice and above all economics that will prevail.

 This will happen because of three reasons:

                    The trigger which lead to nationwide Hindu consolidation was the insight of ShrL.K. Advani and RSS about the tremendous potential of the Ram Jhanma Bhoomi movement to bring all Hindus under one platform.  It has succeeded and it is quite likely that the work on building of the Ram Temple will start in 2018 as the Government of Uttar Pradesh led by the Chief Minister who has become the poster boy for Hinduism.  Faced  with this  reality  of the Ram Temple building, the non-BJP parties will have to be on the back foot and clarify whether they are against the Temple and  face the prospect  of immediately branded as anti-Hindu.  They are likely to therefore, modify their open hostility.

                    Any attempt at arguing for the special treatment of the minorities will definitely not be a vote getter in the elections. 

                    If  pseudo-secularism is dead, then the only available area for political and electoral contention  are  issues of job creation and social justice issues, where   religion based arguments will be on the back burner.  In other words, India would have truly matured as a modern democratic nation in 2019 elections. 

It is interesting that Gujarat elections of 2017 were seen as elections where Rahul Gandhi became a mature leader.  In 2019, the Indian electoral politics would have been mature.

Smart as usual, Narendra Modi has spotted the 18 year old twenty first century Indian youth voting for the first time in the 20119 elections as BJP's special target!

2019 will again be the year of Narendra Modi led BJP.


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