Hindutva as development

In the UP election campaign, all the things usually used to signal ‘vikas’ — welfare schemes, laptops, housing, jobs — were directly connected with Hindutva

Written by Seema Chishti | Published:March 21, 2017 12:06 am
yogi adityanath, adityanath chief minister, modi, narendra modi, modi news, modi UP, uttar pradesh, BJP hindutva, RSS, uttar pradesh election result, UP polls, india news The selection of Yogi Adityanath, mahant of the Gorakhnath peeth, is a firm break in this three-year tradition. Illustration: C R Sasikumar.

With 312 seats for the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh assembly of 403, it is easy to argue that anybody picked to head the state by those MLAs has electoral, and therefore, public legitimacy. But that argument reveals more than it conceals, especially when the BJP fought the UP elections — as it did Bihar in 2015 — on only Narendra Modi’s name, without announcing a chief ministerial candidate. Fully cognisant of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, and its importance for the 2019 parliamentary polls, the prime minister spent a lot of time and energy in his regional campaign, to the extent of spending three full days in Varanasi itself.

In the post-2014 scenario, the BJP had displayed an easy to predict pattern of selecting a CM after winning state elections. A virtual non-entity, a low-key pracharak, known to be close to Modi in his earlier days, belonging to a caste group neither dominant, nor significant in that particular state, was handpicked. So, you had M.L. Khattar in Haryana, who was not a Jat, Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, who was not a Maratha, Raghubar Das in Jharkhand, who was not a tribal, all rumoured to run a “WhatsApp sarkar”, operated centrally through the BJP office in Delhi, where ministers were apparently instructed via WhatsApp on the course of action to take.

The selection of Yogi Adityanath, mahant of the Gorakhnath peeth, is a firm break in this three-year tradition. Adityanath has an independent political base and his speeches and actions are bound to have pleased the RSS, but were not run by it. A member of the dominant upper caste in UP, Adityanath’s selection is a clear interpretation of the mandate that Modi wants to give to the UP assembly polls. It is not what the people voted for — in any case, a speculative exercise when no one saw the extent of BJP’s win coming — but it is the interpretation of that result by the BJP’s high command that is significant.

To anyone who followed the early 1990s’ BJP in the heartland, that the campaign was run as “Hindutva Redux” was as clear as day. This time, an interesting twist to the usual “Hindutva plus development” campaign was given, where it metamorphosed into a “Hindutva as development” theme. All the things usually used to signal “development” — talk of welfare schemes, laptops, housing, jobs — were now directly connected with Hindutva. The supposed inability of people to access government schemes, laptops or scholarship money was linked to caste and religious identity. Even electricity, a huge plus of Akhilesh Yadav’s regime, was given a Hindu-Muslim colour, with Modi himself talking of power supply on Diwali and Ramzan. BJP President Amit Shah regularly spoke of one caste (read Yadavs) getting all the benefits during Akhilesh’s rule. As part of that campaign, the last roadshow that Amit Shah conducted was with Adityanath next to him, getting pride of place.

Essentially, the fine crafting of the Hindu as victim, unable to access resources, was at the heart of the campaign. This is not to say that all those who voted for the BJP only did so for this reason. There was significant anti-incumbency that the Samajwadi Party regime was unable to brush aside, for all its sophisticated campaigning and Akhilesh Yadav kissing his father and uncles goodbye. There were caste combinations and, as in every election, there were local factors. But the BJP knows the real winning card. In choosing three non-MLAs for the top three posts in UP, and especially the controversial mahant from Gorakhpur, the PM has moved away from the anonymous button-pushers picked for CM-ship so far. This reveals Modi’s choice of the person who most mirrors himself, as the vote was clearly sought in his name in all the stages of the campaign.

In India’s largest state, with two years left for the 2019 polls, this choice by Modi effectively answers the question raised about the BJP leadership being equivocal about those members of the cabinet speaking of “Ramzade vs haramzade”, urging people to “Go to Pakistan” or its MPs asking for selective contraception, “ghar wapasi”, and pointing to inter-community marriages as campaigns to convert Hindus.

There are strategic reasons why this would further other causes of the BJP in the state. With a record number of upper castes entering the assembly, this would be the best way to appease that base, and yet hope that Adityanath and his Hindu Yuva Vahini credentials “de-caste” him. Also, whatever may be the state of “development” in the region, with a sure guarantee of other things being on the front-burner, this decision clarifies that the Centre is one for keeping its flock together, and keeping the message “straight”. Also, UP’s proximity to Bihar and Nepal keeps this area in sync with other aspects in the heartland that have been niggling at the BJP.

Elections should be seen a vote for a spectrum of issues. But in the choice of chief ministers and priorities, parties clarify their vision and aims. In that context, this is a moment when the BJP has offered clarity, which one must be grateful for. A statistical assessment of the results adding the seat-wise votes of the SP, BSP and the Congress, in case of a Bihar-like Mahagathbandhan, indicates that the BJP would have got 90 seats and the mythical MGB 313. This is also a response to that possibility. It is an insurance against — after all the noise— not being able to offer laptops, schemes, or even shamshans and kabristans to all.

Speaking of the dead, post-2002, the-then Gujarat CM made a serious attempt at his reinvention as a “development” man. At the time, Adityanath’s organisation, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, made it clear that “UP would be the new Gujarat, and the start would be from Gorakhpur”. The need to not even reinvent is what is central to this choice for UP’s top job. That interpretation of the mandate, needs to worry us all.

seema.chishti@expressindia.com

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  1. B
    B truths
    Mar 21, 2017 at 9:20 pm
    Stupid filthily paid writer. Article with no head or tail. Hope she bothers to read 100 comments and realise true democracy.
    Reply
    1. G
      Govind
      Mar 21, 2017 at 2:36 am
      To dear IE, is it not a conflict of interest to have Seema Chisti as the editor of your newspaper when you claim to be a national newspaper with neutrality ? lt;br/gt; She is the wife of Seetaram Yechuri and regulalrly pes off communist propaa as news articles in your platform. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Any other organization with least bit of ethics would have kept such characters at a distance. It is a shame IE has become communist mouthpiece and fallen from grace from goenka days.
      Reply
      1. I
        Indian
        Mar 21, 2017 at 6:10 am
        IE has maintained such people on their roles. Late RamnathGoenka must be stirring in pain.
        Reply
        1. H
          Hindustani
          Mar 21, 2017 at 8:21 am
          The author is a hard core Islamist. It would like see india as another Nepal. Now that is difference between a muslim idealogy and an Indian or Hindu's self respect. I strongly suggest her husband to watch some you tube videos on how to beat wife gently as mentioned in quran and listed by many mullahs and do your islamic duty.
          Reply
          1. K
            K SHESHU
            Mar 21, 2017 at 3:54 pm
            Sab ka saath overtly means hindutva ka saath ...
            Reply
            1. S
              Surya
              Mar 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm
              “WhatsApp sarkar” ??
              Reply
              1. A
                Ajay G
                Mar 21, 2017 at 3:38 pm
                Religion is deliberately being mixed with politics. This ideny politics, enflamed since mid 80s, should come to an end. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Cast, religion, language based idenies are dangerous for integrity of the country. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;We have seen it from close quarters in Kashmir and later in Punjab. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Next level of harm of ideny based division may come in form of region. Jats in Haryana ........
                Reply
                1. A
                  ak dev
                  Mar 21, 2017 at 10:55 am
                  So worry, weep and c ommit sui cide.
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    Alankar
                    Mar 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm
                    Parion was neither justified then not it gets justified by current scenario.
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Anna
                      Mar 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm
                      Taking instance of “WhatsApp sarkars” did they punish culprits of encounter in Bhopal !! Did they find Najeeb !! Did they have any sympathy towards poor Biryani sellers of Mewat area in Haryana !!
                      Reply
                      1. a
                        a_D
                        Mar 21, 2017 at 8:15 am
                        The current regime of Modi / Shah has no morals, values or ethics.....and like a heartless programmed machine are driven by their single minded objective to win election....they will deceive, say / promise anything, Photoshop, use half truths blended with full lies, ...break any rules as long as they don't get caught or if the penal consequences breaking the rules are bearable...lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;for them the end justifies their means.....lt;br/gt;They think they will get away.....lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;So far on surface they have gotten away....lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It's a test of faith for the rest of humanity again.... in time tested principles...can a liar and deceiver get away for ever...lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Time will answer this one also
                        Reply
                        1. T
                          Tushar
                          Mar 21, 2017 at 5:18 am
                          Man who has the time.yo think about attackimg Hindu and Hinduism or Islam I'm TG D busy world 98% common people are well involved in meetng up their ends of their daily life.. It's only few intellectuals or some extremists who spend time.to think all about that ... This country had been giving all freedom for every citiZen till now and that's the reason it's been really drew envy of other countries for its diversity and..suppression of some communities interest will lead to crisis and civil war that it .
                          Reply
                          1. T
                            Tushar
                            Mar 21, 2017 at 5:20 am
                            Yea I agree that Hinduism never discriminates .But still u guys never stop those who abuse other community and really insult there leaders ... ..beujg silent at such acts are equal to the discrimination
                            Reply
                            1. T
                              Tushar
                              Mar 21, 2017 at 5:37 am
                              But the Issue is u hve to stop treating them as alians .. Giving respect is the only way to earn it back .. I hve seen a kinda Lunatics who jus abuse them for no reason .and speak like as they are intruders
                              Reply
                              1. T
                                Tushar
                                Mar 21, 2017 at 5:57 am
                                Did u ask where she belong to .. Before pouncing up on her u shud have done that. This s it s the issue with Indians .they are very emotional towards their relgion and region paring to southern and North Eastern States education in gujarath and Rajasthan is low.search on internet .. .... She does have some basic qualification if she is enuff confident to say this
                                Reply
                                1. T
                                  Tushar
                                  Mar 21, 2017 at 3:06 am
                                  No the peace and equality is only I'm their words .. We can blame the upper caste .. They are practiced of dominating on lower caste since their origin .... For some.time they have lost the supremacy due to the leftists .. And ambedkar like leaders ..Thus they curse and blame and degrade leftist a lot ..... And all the reservation they blame that only minorities are enjoying is the consequences of their suppressing dominating life they lived in the last ..God showed the Justice by giving minority the upper hand in recent days ..Now after BJP had won .. The upper castes are happy again expecting their old dominating life to be back ... No Dalits are uplifted due to the upper castes .. Y do u say look at the life of Dalits and muslims ..as if their uplift were done by u .. No upper castes are the boss of India ..So the rights wot all were enjoying shud b continued .it's really injustice to deny the rights
                                  Reply
                                  1. A
                                    Ashok Sridharan
                                    Mar 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm
                                    Seema Chishti is the wife of Sitaram Yechury. Nothing more need be said on her credentials!
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      Ashok Sridharan
                                      Mar 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm
                                      What do you expect from the wife of Sitaram Yechury?
                                      Reply
                                      1. I
                                        IslamForFoools
                                        Mar 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm
                                        Duplicate xerox copy converted xchians. 2 kg rice thrown at you and you converted
                                        Reply
                                        1. I
                                          IslamForFoools
                                          Mar 21, 2017 at 1:56 pm
                                          Najee joined Isis , latest report on his laptop search history shows, "how to join Isis" search. You landas are dehumanized and irrelevant in today's world, you must give up Arab slavery called Islam.
                                          Reply
                                          1. I
                                            IslamForFoools
                                            Mar 21, 2017 at 1:56 pm
                                            No abrahamic religions in india( Christianity, Islam)
                                            Reply
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