In retrospect, the big political news of 2017 in India was the landslide BJP win in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, followed by Yogi Adityanath as the new chief minister. The magnitude of this victory was unexpected and sent shockwaves throughout the country, compounded by a saffron monk chosen to lead the state. Congress could not even hold on to the Gandhi stronghold of Amethi.
The UP event was augmented by the return of Bihar to BJP alliance rule, as Nitish Kumar abandoned Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD that was steering the state back into crime and corruption.
The result is that the main Hindu heartland of UP and Bihar is now under BJP or saffron rule and a unitary Hindu vote is emerging in areas in which caste politics had previously prevailed. This Hindu vote, however, is not a mere religious assertion or promotion of religious intolerance, as some would say, but an awakening of Indians to their cultural unity and ancient heritage.
Such so-called Hindu nationalism is not a regressive tendency, but an aspirational move to a new India much as PM Narendra Modi has noted, which honours the great dharmic civilisation of the region and aims at sustaining its continuity. This is very different from the Nehruvian India that was more an imitation of failed western socialist states than anything Indian or dharmic.
The more recent Gujarat election has been emphasised as a Congress revival, mainly because the BJP did not win in a landslide, not because Congress actually won. That losing an election less badly is promoted as positive news for the Congress Party only shows how far the party has fallen from power.
The Gujarat election was conducted in the shadow of the UP election. Rahul Gandhi ran as the newly appointed (one cannot accurately say elected) Congress president. Though Rahul had not previously shown any interest in Hindu temples, much less overtly supporting any Hindu causes, he went on an extensive political temple tour, visiting more than twenty temples in Gujarat.
More notably, he suddenly called himself a thread wearing Brahmin Hindu, strange for one who was long happy to live quietly in the shadow of a Christian mother as if he were a Christian himself. No other leader in the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty has ever made such a clear statement of Hindu identity, even Indira Gandhi who regularly visited Hindu gurus. Yet it is not devotion to Hinduism but political necessity that seems to have motivated his statement.
The Congress party has not given up its old anti-Hindu policies in this outer change to soft Hindu appearance. It continues its old policy of dividing the Hindus by caste with new venom. Congress attempted this in Gujarat as well.
Meanwhile, Rahul and Congress continue stoking leftist sentiments, allying themselves with communist political parties and student unions like those of JNU. Rahul only displays his Hindu appearance when required. Otherwise, he is happy to be part of the far left and support anti-Hindu agendas, particularly hatred of Brahmins.
For the Congress Party their new Hindu identity is just a sidelight or diversion, not a real change of policy, and the party is continuing its old policies of caste division and minority appeasement. Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal is now following the same strategy. Can such old strident anti-Hindu leaders draw enough of the Hindu vote in order to stay in power, without actually changing their anti-Hindu policies? Over these issues loom the shadow of UP and with it the issue of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
So far, the Congress Party has taken no new stance on the Ram Temple and Rahul Gandhi has not made any statements whether the party has changed its views from opposing building the temple and lamenting the loss of Babri Masjid to displaying more sensitivity to Hindu sentiments.
The problem for Congress is that its leaders have long provided legal support for those against the temple, and long castigated Hindus who support the Ram Mandir as communal, anti-secular, if not fascist. Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi continues a steady policy of promoting India globally and expanding development inside the country as well.
The Congress Party is promoting a hate Modi campaign, and trying to create as much confusion and mayhem as it can in the society stirring social unrest, agitation and even violence. Apart from its few pro-Hindu gestures, Congress is now looking more like a new version of the Aam Admi Party with Rahul Gandhi as the new Kejriwal, promoting anarchy in the name of resisting oppression.
The stature of Narendra Modi continues to tower above such immature attempts at political disruption and will likely dominate the future. But expect a year of political theatre, shifting and contradictory views, with anti-Modi stunts and antics covering over a lack of policy or leadership by the opposition. The Hindu card will be mixed with every sort of social division and attempts to create confusion and disruption. Yet it is likely the new Rahul Congress may meet the same fate as the Aam Admi Party.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)