What is Hindutva for you? Does the word Hindu signify a religion or is it symbolic of a way of life?

For me, Hindutva or Hinduism or being Hindu is a way of life. And the origin of the word Hindu confirms it. In ancient times, Persian and Greek people would use the word Hindu for the people of the Indian Subcontinent living on this side of the river Indus. So it basically connoted a geographical and cultural identity. Though there are differences on when the word Hindu became synonymous with a religious identity – in medieval or British colonial India – but it did happen so. And if we talk of the last or this Century – it is now an established fact that Hinduism or the Hindu religion is the largest religion of India in terms of number of followers.

It is said that Savarkar explained the term Hindutva in his essay to explain Indian national identity. But if the word could not gain universal or wide acceptance in India, there were inherent reasons behind it and the main was that Hindutva was still seen in the context of Hinduism or Hindu religion. After the independence, some rightwing political outfits made politics based on Hindutva their ideology and agenda. With time their sphere of influence increased and with it increased the allegations that these parties were using religion to gain political mileage – be it the day-to-day politics or electoral politics.

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A seven judge bench of the Supreme Court is going to deliberate on its 1995 verdict that defined ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ as a ‘way of life’.

While reinstating Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi and the BJP’s Ramchandra Kapse assembly election victories, Justice JS Verma had observed, “It is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption that any reference to Hindutva or Hinduism in a speech makes it automatically a speech based on Hindu religion as opposed to other religions.”

His bench, in fact, further said that ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ represented India’s people and its cultural ethos – “It may well be that these words are used in the speech to promote secularism and to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticise the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant.”

It was an epoch-defining judgment which cleared the path of the BJP and the like-minded parties who weaved their politics on Hinduism and Hindutva as it removed the legal hurdle due to the interpretation of ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ as under religion and thus as corrupt practices under the Representation of People (RPA) Act.

Its Section 123 (3-A) says, “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”

And that defines one of the many corrupt practices it lays norms for.

Now, according to this landmark judgment, any electoral practice aimed at influencing voters in the name of ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ doesn’t constitute the case for corruption because Hindutva is not a religion but an all-encompassing term that defines the Indian way of life.

But the verdict has not been beyond questions, even from different judges of the Supreme Court. So anything can happen tomorrow.

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Ajay Maken – Iftar at Narela with Buta Singh Ji organised by the local @DelhiPCC workers – Spirit of togetherness & brotherhood!

Ajay Maken – Thanks @ArvindKejriwal for your Iftar invite! Unable to make it because of prefixed Iftar with Congressmen in Narela.

Derek O’Brien – Always an honour to represent @MamataOfficial My first Iftar outside Kolkata. Gracious host @ArvindKejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party retweeted – High profile iftar party hosted by Delhi CM Kejriwal. Pak HC, vice president, LG Jung JDU and TMC.

These tweets are yet another example of how politics and religion have become so entangled in our country.

A devout Muslim breaks his daily fast in the holy month of Ramadan (Ramzan) at every sunset and Iftar has been a social event ever since the beginning. At every evening, in every locality, Muslims come together, sit together and break their religious observance of the day. And it has been a common sight ever since childhood. And it happens so, in every childhood, in every generation.

In India, where politics took religious overtures very early, the social event has been turned into yet another spectacle of political appeasement.

Every political party has been doing it, including the Bhartiya Janata Party. In a country where politics draws its sanctity heavily from religion, caste and their appeasement, politicians and political parties in every part of the country organize special Iftar parties to show how politically involved they are with the community. And leaders and opinion leaders of Muslims do the same.

And since it is the season again, as Eid is expected to be July 18 (or based on Moon sighting), they are on the job again. Yes, elections do carry politicised, contextualized and localized calculations and as Bihar polls are just two months away, everyone is busy promoting political credentials on their ‘self conceived and self-propaganda’ lines.

So, even if the regular stuff in this Eid is on, like the daily festivities related to the daily Iftar parties, those shops in Muslim localities selling food items to satisfy appetites after a tough day of fast, and Salman Khan’s annual movie release on Eid, political parties are competing each other in attending and organizing Iftar parties to lure voters.

And after ‘mainstreaming’ of the Aam Aadmi Party, it too has joined the bandwagon. Though the party claimed to be a party with a difference, unlike any, it ultimately, and within three years only, joined similar ranks. These tweets and many of its acts after forming the government again in this February confirm this.

Arvind Kejriwal today hosted an Iftar party which was attended by many political heavyweights including Najeeb Jung, Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor , with whom Kejriwal is engaged in bitter power struggle and Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit. It was logical to expect Ajay Maken’s and the BJP’s leadership’s absence there. Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia was seen attending Iftar party of J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed where no central BJP leader was present.

Sonia Gandhi is hosting Congress’ Iftar party tomorrow and big political names, including many chief ministers (especially of non-BJP states), trying to send out an impression that Congress leads the anti-BJP front (or the secular front). But Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mamata Banarjee are not going to be there. Also, Lalu is holding his own Iftar party tomorrow, in Patna, whereas Nitish Kumar, Bihar’s chief minister and Lalu’s alliance member, is flying to Delhi to attend Sonia’s.

And while the BJP has denied that Narendra Modi will hold an Iftar party in Srinagar during Eid, the party has organized Iftar parties at state levels – like it did in West Bengal. This is in addition to the Iftar parties held by its allies in the National Democratic Alliance.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/




©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


“Politics is supposed to be the sociological function to shape and strengthen the democracy in a country like India. Politicians are supposed to be the elected custodians to serve the cause of the people to support the elements of democracy.

Religion is supposed to be the ideological, spiritual and social function that inculcates a discipline to follow life according to the norm in a society, a norm that intends to promote the humane values, the concept of ‘humanity first’.

But, both, politics and religion are creating effects, events and undercurrents in the society and in the country that are antithesis to these supposed functions.

Add to it the cancerous concoction of religion and politics. It completes the circle of exploitation, of democracy, in the name of democracy.”

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


A media report quoting the original litigants in Ayodhya Ram Temple issue asked if the Ram Temple was the biggest issue in India.

Certainly it is not. And it should never be.

A God, be of any religion, never allows violence in His name. And so, the multitudes of us, who indulge in violent activities in His name, are not his followers but traders of His name for our own benefits; for our own selfish agendas. Politicians acquire the highest place in this category of traders, the mercenaries of Faith. And millions of us act as their stooges, the idiots!

Fortunately, it has not been an issue for over a decade now.

Unfortunately, in the prevailing political circumstances of the country when moral corruption has shadowed the ethical politics completely, it can emerge as ‘the principal issue’ or ‘one of the principal issues’ anytime.

The cocktail of religion and politics in the run up to the upcoming ‘big’ assembly elections and the parliamentary polls – the rush to appease the minorities to fool them again to secure their vote and the emergence of Narendra Modi as the most popular national leader and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s prime-ministerial candidate – has started creating bitter taste.

The ‘polarisation war’ has begun. The ‘politics of polarisation’ is going to make the cocktail of ‘religion and politics’ taste even more pungent in the days to come.

Though, seeking a wider ‘perceptive’ acceptability, even beyond India, the BJP is not going to play the religious card openly in the elections, and even Narendra Modi is not going to be verbose about exploiting the religious sentiments, but in a heightened religious atmosphere with overemphasis on minority appeasement, a mere presence of Narendra Modi is enough to polarise the Hindu votes, given it gets the ‘push’ to stir the majority sentiments. And certainly, the Ram Temple could be an issue to begin the process to give the ‘push’.

And the rest of the job of carrying out acts for the ‘push’, like ‘84 Kosi Yatra’ or ‘rallies and protests for the Ram Temple’ or ‘Kashi’ or ‘Mathura’ or ‘anti-Hindu violence in J&K’, can be done by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) or Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or some other Hindu outfits.

Construction of Ram Temple or any such religious demand is just a tool to push the electoral politics along the religious lines and may not have significant impact but when aligned with the polarising persona of Narendra Modi, may well serve the purpose of aligning and uniting the divided Hindu votes.

Like always, it will not lead to the work leading to the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, but Narendra Modi’s emergence in national politics and his emphasis on UP makes it different this time.

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and NDA strategists think so. And Narendra Modi thinks so. And by the political mood of the nation, it seems logical, if looked at in the context of a sociopolitical analysis.

So, he is going to address four rallies in UP in October with clear reports that he will be contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh, too. And there would be many more ‘religiously aligned’ events lined up as the elections near.

Winning UP or scoring a significantly enhanced performance in India’s most populous state with maximum number of parliamentary seats is crucial for the BJP. And so the BJP and the NDA’s strategists would do all to rake-up the issue of construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, once again, like they have been doing in the past, before every election, to align the Hindu sentiments, on religious lines, against the caste and class divide.

And if that happens, that would be unfortunate, for us, for the nation, once again.

But, equally detestable is the minority and the caste appeasement politics.

What is the way out then?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


What Narendra Modi is doing is akin to tapping the neglected votebank of the majority Hindus.

Indian politics has had absolute shades of minority appeasement. The politicians enjoying the riches of a fractured majority votebank have crossed limits many a times in appeasing the minorities, clearly at the cost of promoting communal divide in the country.

It is foolhardy to ignore this fact. I am confident that I am free from religion and caste biases and I am not writing this because I am a Hindu. I am writing this because I am an Indian first. Hindus, Muslims or people of any other religion or faith are equal citizens of India and there must not be preferential treatments based on religious lines, as the politicians have been doing, to a particular religion.

In a democracy with staggering number of poor people, that India is, the only criteria for preferential treatment can the social and economic conditions.

If the BJP has to come to power and if Narendra Modi has to become the next prime minister of the country, they need something to mobilize the votes that can match the huge (but not enough, as it may depose the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government but may not guarantee the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) the 7 RCR) anti-incumbency against the Manmohan Singh led UPA government.

And for an alienated votebank, largely unaware of its rights and the power of its vote, that can be achieved through polarisation of votes on communal lines.

Polarisation of votes on the communal lines is the only factor in the prevailing sociopolitical circumstances in the country that can unite the majority Hindu votes divided along the different caste and regional lines.

It is not that only Narendra Modi is realizing it. Others, too, realize it but they would never be sure of getting returns as they, till now, have played the communal card of the minority appeasement politics and have no experience on dancing to the tunes of majority appeasement.

While Narendra Modi of the day is creation of the communal card of the majority appeasement politics! An intensifying ‘communal Vs secular’ debate benefits his style of politics.

It is true, the BJP did reap the benefits of the religious politics by exploiting the majority sentiments on Ram Temple issue to become one of the major political forces in the country but it doesn’t hold that ground anymore. On the other hand, Modi, though trying to reach out to the Muslims or other votebanks in recent times, has carefully continued with his Hindu hardliner image.

But, in the prevailing circumstances, the BJP is not going to play the religious card openly in the elections, and even Narendra Modi is not going to be verbose about exploiting the religious sentiments.

But, mere presence of Narendra Modi is enough to polarise the Hindu votes.

And the rest of the job of carrying out acts, the ‘push’, like ‘84 Kosi Yatra’ or ‘rallies and protests for the Ram Temple’ or ‘Kashi’ or ‘Mathura’ or ‘anti-Hindu violence in J&K’, can be done by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) or Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or some other Hindu outfits.

Modi has proved his identity as an efficient election manager in uniting the fractured Hindu votebank in Gujarat. He has, for the first time in the Indian political history, successfully sustained the majority appeasement politics by combining it with a pro-development agenda and its efficient execution.

It is true what he has been able to achieve politically in Gujarat cannot be applied for the rest of India. But the alternative premise is also equally possible that it can be applied to the rest of India.

What happens will only decide the next course of drama in the political arena of India and that leaves the doors open for extensive and wild experiments, at least, till the outcome of the next parliamentary polls.

In other words, ‘what is going to be and what is going not to be’ can only be tested on the timescale and the immediate point of reference for this on the timescale is going to be the next parliamentary polls.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


It has already begun. The Reuters interview should be seen as the formal announcement – timed and worded the Narendra Modi way!

It is just a matter of time when Narendra Modi is declared the NDA’s prime-ministerial nominee. Anyway, he is already calling the shots. He has started writing the script of BJP’s and NDA’s strategy to approach the upcoming assembly and parliamentary elections.

As expected, it is going to be the reflection of the Narendra Modi style of politics and is going to be based on the experiences gained in Gujarat. And it has to be seen in the light of the growing realization among the majority of the BJP leaders that a wider deviation from the core Hindutva ideology has harmed the party, especially in absence of someone like Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

This would certainly push the party and the coalition strategists to push for a ‘mix’ of religion and politics that could serve the twin purposes of – not looking too deviant on the core Hindutva ideology as well as not sounding communal while wooing the voters on the religious line.

And Narendra Modi has been doing it exceedingly well in Gujarat, especially after 2007 when he won the state the second time.

And so, the cardinal elements of the script are expected to be:

A greater emphasis on the Hindutva branding: As already indicated in the Reuters interview where Modi reiterated himself to be a Hindu nationalist first.

An increasing mix of the hardline ideology as the time progresses: More in sync with the RSS thought process – to stir the voter’s thinking pattern with the notions of Hindu identity and the Hindu pride!

Religion and politics to gel even more deeply: Yes, the BJP may not make the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya an election issue but it is only because the party knows its support groups like the VHP or its ideological mentor RSS would do this bit.

But the party would keep talking about it in varying degrees as Amit Shah spoke about the temple during his Ayodhya visit recently. Expect Modi to polarize and exploit the religious sentiments of Hindus to unite them across the divided Hindu votebanks on similar lines.

‘Gujarati Pride’ to prop up the ‘Indian Pride’: ‘Gujarati Asmita or Gujarati Pride’ has created a huge pro-Modi middle class votebank across the different caste lines in Gujarat. It pulls the affluent class and the Diaspora as well. Modi would love to rake up the imagination of Indians for their position in the globalized world, a not so encouraging picture at all. He would talk and eulogize the Gujarat development putting it in context of the BJP’s performance in the party-run states. The development plank would run parallel to the religious plank.

Expect more of the comparisons like with China and other neighbours as Modi elaborated on in his Pune speech on July 14. The meekness of the Manmohan Singh’s government in dealing with China, Pakistan and other neighbours as well as acting coy in dealing with the global powers like the US can be exploited very well. And there are plenty of such issues.

Besides these are the routine pot-boiler elements like the UPA corruption or the price rise or the falling Rupee.

Elections in a country like India are not fought on statistical manipulations like what the Congress tried to do by putting a point-by-point rebuttal targeting the Narendra Modi’s Pune speech a day after.

In a country that has not had the history of distinguishing between ‘status quo’ and ‘progress’ as the election plank, elections are fought by creating stronger elements of perception putting the adversary in the negative light. Yes, having a pro-development image is an added advantage. And Narendra Modi as the most popular political leader in the country with the twin advantages of being ‘pro-religious’ and ‘pro-development’ looks far more capable than any other leader in any political outfit to deliver it.

So be ready for the fireworks. Narendra Modi knows a small spark lit by him creates a huge fireball taking every political opponent within its reach. And he seems to be enjoying it. That is what he is looking for.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/