The surge of Hindu right in Indian politics

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Ram Temple in debate
Who decide what?
Who decide what?

In this season of winter when chilled weather and gust of wind defining the climate the political climate is under churning in Ayodhya when the issue of construction of Ram Temple has been put under debate and this debate also provide us to look back and take a review of the whole politics which is connected to it and what future awaits for this politics.

 

Western audience find rare chance to look to India in a stunned manner with a mixture of concern and its utility for them. In last few decades such occasions have arrived rarely when westerns particularly elites and who matter in power politics have looked to India to watch it. The first such occasion in recent history arrived on 7thDecember 1992 when the whole western press was filled with the story of the demolition of the old mosque in holy city of Hindus in Ayodhya on 6th December where they brought down a mosque during their movement to demand a Temple at the birth place of their Lord Ram where in medieval period an Islamic invader Baber built a mosque in the process of his expedition to Hindu India. The mob of thousands of Hindus gathers in Ayodhya and disobeyed their leaders and took charge of the situation into their own hands and demolished the old mosque to declare the resurgence of Hindus as a force on international theater in near future.

This event happened and west forgot the Hindus after 7th December 1992 and returned to their routine work but west woke up again to look towards India after massive Hindu Muslims riots broke out in western part of the country in the state of Gujarat in 2002 although it was not the first time that India witnessed communal riots but it was different from previous one.  It broke out in the new age of media where electronic media with its strong visual effect creates multiple impacts on the level of perception on its viewers and same thing happened with this riot. The continuous 24×7 coverage of riots give birth to a new politician in India named Narendra Modi who become symbol of growing march of Hindu resurgence and this coverage also   throws a challenge before Indian society if it would continue to march ahead on its path of Hindu resurgence or turn back to liberal left to negate the outcome of a Hindu right movement for decades in India which is popularly known in India as politics of “ Hindutva”.

 

The riots of Gujarat redefined the Indian politics and created a new mascot of Hindu Right which become favorite whipping boy of left across the world for decades but in may 2014 Hindus again stunned the world when the favorite whipping boy of left Narendra Modi won the general elections with massive majority on its own and scripted the new politics of India which will be dictated by Hindu rights for a long time.

The domestic political debate in India is on its peak to determine whether India will turn away again to liberal left or the process of resurgence of Hindus which is going on for a long time and manifested several occasions shown its most assertive tone first in 1992 will accelerate further to consolidate Hindus more in India to give stiff challenge to the growing threat of Islamism world over.

To understand things in perspective it is necessary to go into the history of politics of Hindu right in India.

If we go back into history and try to read the essence of Hindu right popularly known as Hindutva movement it came before us in several periods . The politics of Hindutva started in the decade of 1980’s with the demand of construction of temple at the birth place of Lord Ram (Revered by Hindus) in Ayodhya where in medieval period an Islamic invader Baber built a mosque which Hindus considered as the monument of Islamic supremacy on Hindus to remind them the history of medieval phase when they were subjugated under Islamic rule.   But the movement of Hindu right  originates with the foundation of RSS in 1925 when a former member of Congress Seva Dal Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar who  founded this organization with sole purpose of uniting the Hindus against the surge of growing Muslim influence in contemporary politics which    demanded  the installation of the Caliphate institution   and  Dr Hedgewar found  the then congress leadership was succumbing to the pressure of Muslims and in the process of taking the support of Muslims to fight the freedom movement against British colonial rulers they are appeasing Muslims to such extent that very nature of indianess is compromised and the very existence of Hindus was in danger which in his opinion was the nationality of India because India has been in continuity with its culture and ethos for a long time which can be  defined as a Hindu Nation .

The whole movement of Hindu right led by RSS can be categorized in several phases and first phase of them is 1925 to 1948.

Since 1925 to 1948 the Hindu Right organisation was under the influence of militaristic nationalism ( In some way parallel to Hitler of Germany and Mussolini of Italy)   and the History of Roman empire and other Greek war heroes always inspired the iconic figures of RSS and between this era the threat of Muslims domination under the leadership of Muslim league  and  acute communal polarization before independence become the reason of surge for this organization where Hindus find them under threat, seize  and insecurity .   After the independence of India in 1947 it was divided into two countries and population were transported from both communities to each side of the national boundaries. This was the year when communal temperature was at its worst and massacre took place and both the communities played the victim hood but the Hindu nationalist feeling among Hindu rights culminated in the assassination of the iconic figure of country and even of the world to some extent Mahatma Gandhi. After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in  1948  this Hindu right  organization was blamed for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and ban was also slapped on it and in that difficult period the organization was headed by its  second chief  Madhaorao Sadashivrao  Golwalkar  who was popularly known as Guruji ( A term which is in India being used for those who have spiritual tendencies is his personality and considered more knowledgeable than others) tried to infuse some taste of spirituality into the organization   to make this  more acceptable to Indian society and he also decentralized the work force into various other organizations under the one  umbrella of RSS to reach out to almost every dimension of Indian society from students to labour and religion to politics so its militaristic tendencies and identity should not overtake this organization  .

The second phase of this organization begins from 1948 to 1964 when the process of transformation started in its nature , approach and expansion and after the assassination of Mahtma Gandhi even RSS was absolved from the allegations of its involvement from the judicial commissions but it has to face negative  public perception for itself for a long time till 1964  when India was backstabbed by China and India lost war against China and the first Prime Minister of India Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru almost find himself clueless and shocked   and threat of Communist taking over India  become real the  RSS again came in debate and it become  more acceptable organization  among Middle class and business groups.

Since decade of 1960’s to the early years of  1980’s RSS was a balancing force in Indian society and polity to stop the influence of Communists on one hand and Indira Gandhi on the other. This was the era when Socialist and other non communists did not hesitate to take the support of RSS to reach out to masses for their political purpose.

The golden period of RSS started in 1980’s when the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 created a vacuum of leadership in Indian society and polity. The  1980’s was the same  period when Middle East was going through the upheaval the long war between Iran and Iraq was going on and the Iranian revolution has created a fear psychosis among non Islamic countries with having more Muslim population as being swept away in the wave of Islamic revolution  and few other  countries in Persian gulf and Lybia under Kaddafi has took few steps which generated immense wealth for these nations from oil and the concept of “ Petro Dollar” in international relations originated and get more emboldened in  1980’s  which gave ammunition and authority to Islamism which evolved as another threat along with  communism.

It was the same period when the eminent scholar of Islam and Middle Eastern History Dr Daniel Pipes wrote a book titled “In the path of God” and he warned the world to the  evolving threat of Islamism and called on the civilized forces to unite to take on this challenge at ideological level . His words proved prophetic once 9\11 happened and since then the whole world is battling the challenge of Islamism.

In background of these international developments the internal political situation provided a solid base for RSS to reinvent it to go more closer to its cherished dream of making India as “Hindu Rashtra” in their opinion different from concept of nation state and theocratic state. The demand for the construction of Ram Temple at the birth place of lord Ram in Ayodhya become the focal point to connect the unconscious thought among Hindus of Persecution in Middle ages from the hands of Islam with a live symbol of religion and this movement polarized the opinion of country and since then in last two and half decade the whole politics of country is revolving around this polarization.

The demand for the construction of temple at the birth place of Lord Ram in Ayodhya paved the way for a movement whose anti climax reached   on  6 December 1992 when Hindu  mob demolished the  medieval structure  named on the Islamic invader  Baber who built this mosque as part of his expedition mission into Medieval Bharat ( The indigenous Indian name).  The incident of demolition of a mosque was a game changer in Indian society and Polity. Since the date of 6 December 1992, Indian society witnessed a dramatic shift in the relations between Hindus and Muslims in India. Different persons may have different views on the incident of 6th December which led to the demolition of old mosque in Ayodhya but no one can deny the fact that first time the whole world saw that India is witnessing some dramatic change in her nature.  Since demolition of old Mosque in Ayodhya on 6th December 1992 to till this date the makeshift Temple of lord Ram is situated at the place where old mosque was built and almost everyone in country has realized that this temple cannot be replaced from this place even if both Hindus and Muslims decide to opt for any out of court settlement on this issue. It shows the shift in the relations between Hindus and Muslims where Muslims are learning to live as part of nation not part of international Ummah and separate religious bloc.

 

Since 1992 to 2014 the Indian politics has reached to a stage where Hindu right political party forms government in center on its own  with absolute  majority which was almost unthinkable  and impossible even few years ago.  It would be interesting to watch where Indian politics goes from here.

Now there are two opinions to the future projection for Hindu Right. One opinion suggest that India is a society with having a long tradition of plurality and diversity and the Hindu rights may not be able to keep this contradictory aspirational pluralistic social groups together  for a long time with emotive issues of communal polarization , but other opinion suggest that process of consolidation of Hindus is direct result  of threat of Islamist movements on international level and surge in terrorism in country multiplied with the  growing population of Muslims inside India which has changed the demographic landscape of country in different places in India and Hindus  fear more for their future generation and want to secure that India would never convert into a Muslim dominated country and they are not ready to watch their heritage and religion to be fallen like some countries in Europe who are passively waiting for their turn to be described as passed phase  of their  of history.

Since its foundation in 1925 the RSS and its affiliate Hindu organizations have stretched their mass base  in most of the section of the  Hindu society and their consistent efforts have created a new generation of people in every walk of life who sincerely feels that India with its civilizational identity cannot be preserved unless Hindus have their own clout and might as Israel has with unapologetic civilizational and cultural identity as Jewish nation.

In last few decades the comparison of India with Israel has given aspiration to be a Hindu nation in the ambit of modern democratic values.

The politics of Hindu right popularly known as  Hindutva in India has reached to its decisive phase from where it can think of  dictating its terms but the real challenge before  RSS is  could RSS   reshape herself in  new package according to the modern aspirations and values  to take this movement to new heights.

The issue of more freedom to women, individual freedom and cohesive approach with western liberal values and evolving the common grounds with christian values and Abrahmic faiths are the potent questions which need immediate answer from the RSS and other Hindu organizations who still struggle to establish themselves in the mainstream of the global power play.

In last two and half decade Hindutva politics has dominated the Indian political landscape but its impact on World Theater is still a distant dream.