While the Supreme Court judgment of Saturday, November 9 (India’s own 9/11), was a plus for the long-run agenda of the Sangh Parivar, the hiatus in Maharashtra has been a setback. The Shiv Sena was never officially a part of the Parivar but ideologically there was little distance between the BJP and Shiv Sena. The Sena even claims ownership of the idea of destroying the Babri Masjid. Success has many fathers.
Pre-poll coalitions stay together if rewarded by electoral success, but if they under-perform, then there is every chance of a breakup. This is because at the bottom there is no hard core of ideology to most political parties in India (except perhaps the Left, but where has it got them?). Parties couple up or break up depending on chances of winning office (and thereby making money). In this, modern political parties are like the many small kingdoms in old India who joined up with the ruling power or whoever offered them more, as the English found out. Loyalties were fragile.
Of course, the BJP is an ideological party with a clear goal of establishing a Hindu Rashtra. The Shiv Sena has a similar but local ambition for the Marathi manoos. When the Mahayuti (Grand Coalition) failed to win a majority, the coalition ran into difficulty. The Shiv Sena realised that its core clientele is Maratha while BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis is a Brahmin. Perhaps this conflict of interest was always there but was hidden while success ensured top jobs. The Brahmin-Maratha differences are ages old.
From the proceedings in Maharashtra, there are deeper conclusions to be drawn. If two Hindu nationalist parties cannot agree on a power-sharing coalition because of the Brahmin/non-Brahmin difference, what hope is there for a Hindu Rashtra? As we saw in Haryana, the Jats have their own agenda which is not the agenda of the BJP.
Analysing the settlement (one hopes) of the Ayodhya dispute, many articles recalled how the Rath Yatra of L K Advaniji was triggered by V P Singh’s implementation of Mandal. The BJP realised Mandal was a valourisation of the caste divisions within the Hindu society. To unite the Hindus, the Rath Yatra and then the Ram Mandir agitations were launched. The campaigns were successful in as much as they established the hegemony of the BJP, and have now secured the temple site.
But the Mandal movement has been equally effective. There are caste vote banks across North India which know their bargaining power. We shall see their clout in Bihar elections. State by state you can map the fragments within the Hindu vote rooted in the caste system. In South India, there was not much effect of Mandal but that was because the Justice Party had been winning concessions against the Brahmin monopoly on jobs and higher education since before Independence. The Dravidian movement has deepened it. South India is another world if you want to build a Hindu Rashtra.
The Parivar faces a double challenge. Winning a second election in May was great but since then the BJP is falling short. The economy has also turned sour, let us hope temporarily. But unless the BJP can display dazzling success, it may find achieving Hindu Rashtra elusive.
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