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Modi @20 invokes political Hindutva tandav on secularism

If the Congress is aggressively following Hinduism, can other parties be far behind?

Published: 10th October 2021 07:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2021 07:31 AM   |  A+A-

Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is an indisputable fact of history that once a cult grows, it becomes a culture. When a democratically elected leader acquires canonic stature, he or she changes the idea of a nation. It is rare for a sachem’s style and life to influence the lives of others. During the past two decades, a single name has dominated the international and national discourse for his views on economics, religion and demography — Narendra Modi.

Last week, the BJP set another new precedent by celebrating Modi’s two decades in office as chief minister and prime minister. The entire party and the government were ordered to rollout a plan to showcase his virtues through old and new visuals and rhetoric. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: ‘@NarendraModi ji completes 20 glorious years of governance today. His leadership from Gujarat to Delhi stands on the solid ground of a transformative agenda for India.’ According to Minister for Railways and IT, Ashwini Vaishnaw, ‘The journey of transforming lives using technology as CM of Gujarat, is now leading PM@narendramodi Ji’s vision of #DigitalIndia for #NewIndia.’  The rambunctious Textile Minister Smriti Irani emphasised how the PM has empowered women. The BJP, which never skips an opportunity to promote the Modi cult, celebrated his 20th anniversary in power as prime minister and Gujarat chief minister last week. It ran the hashtag #20YearsOfSevaSamarpan to extol his personal sacrifices, innovative mind, governance model and total commitment to national welfare, thus amplifying his two decades in the service of Bharat.

All central leaders, state party chiefs, office bearers, Union ministers and chief ministers took to social media as if Jack Dorsey was going out of business. Each one of them chose his or her own favourite virtue of the PM to advertise his skills as administrator, statesman, ideologue and groundbreaker. “In last 2 decades, @narendramodi Ji’s focus on empowering women as CM and PM has not only emancipated scores of women both socially & economically but also enhanced ease of living. #20YearsOfSevaSamarpan,” tweeted Smriti Irani. Perhaps, they weren’t doing their boss any favour. Driven by self-interest, they are barnacles on the hull of the great Modi galleon. Left to themselves, most would lose their deposits. Modi is the first CM-turned-PM to ensure an absolute majority for his party twice in a row. No such predecessor barring PV Narasimha Rao could complete a full term let alone get a second mandate.

Taking a cue from the party president and ministers, thousands of BJP admirers crowded social media singing paeans to the ne plus ultra of their leaders. Undoubtedly, ever since he became the Gujarat chief minister on October 7, 2001, Modi has disruptively altered the terms of political engagement and the algorithm of governance. Surprise, Speed, Secrecy and Selectivity are the four S that makes him the most powerful, enviously popular, and excessively visible political leader in the world. Soon after becoming PM in 2014, his picture appeared all over India’s seven lakh villages.

There was hardly an airport, a fuel station or a railway station where his life size hoardings were not found. If that isn’t enough, the Centre has put his photos on 1 billion Covid vaccination certificates. During the past two decades, his promoters ensured that he never vanished from the headlines and primetime debates. He is the maestro of novel action plans and slogans. From Godhra to the abrogation of Article 370, Modi has been setting a new narrative. From an international pariah in 2002, he became a global darling in 20 years because he competes with none other than himself. He loves good things. But he is also at his desk 18 hours a day.

He has forbidden politicians from sitting around in their offices, attending parties and travelling abroad on a whim. He will go down in history as a politician who has given India a religiously driven right wing alternative to the 60-year-old Left-of-centre dispensation. He reduced the 135-year-old Congress to almost a cipher. He is a democratic dictator. If for the Congress, Indira was India, Narendrabhai is Bharat for the BJP. If during the early 1950s, India was known for Jawaharlal Nehru, Modi is the identity of new India.

The prime minister’s phoenix-like rise owes its vertical trajectory to his consummate skill in playing the Hindutva card. Before he arrived on the national scene, political battles were fought between communalism and secularism. His muscular championship of the Hindu identity has ejected secularism from the political discourse. While LK Advani’s Rath Yatra revived Hindu pride, he couldn’t convert it into votes. Using state power to implement the Hindutva agenda, Modi politically transformed resurgent Hindu sentiment into votes. In the process, he glued the label of minority appeasement on the opposition. The opposition intuited that unless they wean the middle-class Hindu away, they don’t have a chance in hell or heaven. Modi, ironically, generated the competitive urge in other parties to openly associate themselves with Hindu culture, deities and practices.

Since the Congress was wiped by the Modi miracle, its leaders are revising their lost connections with Hindus. Rahul Gandhi displays his sacred thread and gotra. He has visited over 100 temples since 2017. His last visit was to Vaishno Devi. Last week, Priyanka Gandhi again visited a temple during her UP visit. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel danced to bhajans during the inauguration of Kaushalya temple. Sesquipedalian Shashi Tharoor tweeted: ‘May Ma Durga’s blessings bring happiness & prosperity to all. Happy #Navratri.’

If the Congress is aggressively following Hinduism, can other parties be far behind? Kalvakuntla Kavitha, former MP and daughter of the Telangana CM, tweeted: “Happy Navaratra.” The Andhra Pradesh government announced special shelters for devotees traveling by foot from Tamil Nadu to Tirumala. During the past few months, Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav has made several visits to Hindu pilgrimage centres like Ayodhya, Chitrakoot. Even Mamata Banerjeee appears to have rediscovered her Hindu spirit.

During her 28-hour poll campaign in Nandigram, she visited around 20 temples. When grilled by the media, she shot back: “I’m a Hindu too. Hinduism teaches us to love all. It does not create division. I start my day with the Chandi-path. Should I chant it now? I am also a Brahmin.” Her party and she are fully convinced that unless they project themselves as Hindus, Didi will not be accepted as a national leader. Even her sworn enemies, the Marxists promote soft Hinduism. During early March 2020, the CPM observed a Ramayana month in Kerala. According to published reports, its general secretary carried a floral kalash on his head while participating in the Bonalu ritual. The Left government is delaying the implementation of women’s entry into Sabrimala to avoid a Hindu backlash. Atheist Dravidian parties have significantly toned down their attacks on Hindu traditions and temples.

From Kanyakumari to Kalimpong, Hinduism has acquired respectability and desirability. The credit entirely goes to Modi. He has combined cult with development and religion. Though Savarkar invoked Hindutva as the Indian identity, it is Modi who has successfully tweaked it as Hindu-ness and reaped political harvest. What 95-year-old RSS has been preaching for nearly a century, its 70-year-old pradham pracharak has achieved with his deeds. Modi by himself is now the Trinity of Indian politics — the creative Brahma of Hinduness, the preserving Vishnu of faith and the destroyer Maheshwar of pseudo secularism.  

Prabhu Chawla
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla



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  • TRuebharatvasi

    Modi by himself is now the Trinity of Indian politics — the creative Brahma of Hinduness
    8 months ago reply
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