The surge of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes in so far as it promises to restore the Brahminical social order.
The recent upsurge of Hindu nationalism in India is a huge setback for the movement to annihilate caste and bring about a more equal society. The setback is not an accident: the growth of Hindu nationalism can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy.
Hindutva and Caste
The essential ideas of Hindu nationalism, also known as “Hindutva”, are not difficult to understand. They were explained with great clarity by V.D. Savarkar in Essentials of Hindutva (Savarkar, 1923), and amplified by other early Hindutva thinkers such as M.S. Golwalkar. The basic idea is that India belongs to the “Hindus”, broadly defined in cultural – rather than strictly religious – terms that include Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains but not Muslims and Christians (because the cradle of their religion is elsewhere). The ultimate goal of Hindutva is to unite the Hindus, revitalise Hindu society and turn India into a “Hindu rashtra”.
Incidentally, the arguments that were advanced to support these ideas involved startling departures from rational thinking, common sense and scientific knowledge. Just to illustrate, consider Golwalkar’s argument that all Hindus belong to one race, the Aryan race. Golwalkar did not have to contend, at that time, with the scientific evidence we have against that argument today, but he did grapple with an alleged discovery that Aryans came from somewhere north of India, in fact near the North Pole. He dealt with this claim by arguing that the North Pole itself used to be located in India:
… the North Pole is not stationary and quite long ago it was in that part of the world, which, we find, is called Bihar and Orissa at the present; … then it moved northeast and then by a sometimes westerly, sometimes northward movement, it came to its present position… we were all along here and the Arctic Zone left us and moved away northwards in its zigzag march. (Golwalkar, 1939: p8)
Golwalkar did not explain how the Aryans managed to stay in place during this “zigzag march” of the North Pole. He used similarly contrived arguments to defend the odd claim that all Hindus share “one language”.
The Hindutva project can also be seen as an attempt to restore the traditional social order associated with the common culture that allegedly binds all Hindus. The caste system, or at least the varna system (the four-fold division of society), is an integral part of this social order. In We or Our Nationhood Defined, for instance, Golwalkar clearly says that the “Hindu framework of society”, as he calls it, is “characterised by varnas and ashrams” (Golwalkar 1939, p. 54). This is elaborated at some length in Bunch of Thoughts (one of the foundational texts of Hindutva), where Golwalkar praises the varna system as the basis of a “harmonious social order”.1 Like many other apologists of caste, he claims that the varna system is not meant to be hierarchical, but that does not cut much ice.
Golwalkar and other Hindutva ideologues tend to have no problem with caste. They have a problem with what some of them call “casteism”. The word casteism, in the Hindutva lingo, is not a plain reference to caste discrimination (like “racism” is a reference to race discrimination). Rather, it refers to various forms of caste conflict, such as Dalits asserting themselves and demanding quotas. That is casteism, because it divides Hindu society.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the torch-bearer of Hindu nationalism today, has been remarkably faithful to these essential ideas. On caste, the standard line remains that caste is part of the “genius of our country”, as the National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ram Madhav, put it recently in Indian Express (Madhav, 2017), and that the real problem is not caste but casteism.
An even more revealing statement was made by Yogi Adityanath, head of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, in an interview with NDTV three years ago. Much like Golwalkar, he explained that caste was a method for “managing society in an orderly manner”. He said: “Castes play the same role in Hindu society that furrows play in farms, and help in keeping it organised and orderly… Castes can be fine, but casteism is not…”.2
To look at the issue from another angle, Hindutva ideologues face a basic problem: how does one “unite” a society divided by caste? The answer is to project caste as a unifying rather than a divisive institution.3 The idea, of course, is unlikely to appeal to the disadvantaged castes, and that is perhaps why it is rarely stated as openly as Yogi Adityanath did in his interview. Generally, Hindutva leaders tend to abstain from talking about the caste system, but there is a tacit acceptance of it in this silence. Few of them, at any rate, are known to have spoken against the caste system.
Sometimes Hindutva leaders create an impression that they oppose the caste system because they speak or act against untouchability. Savarkar himself was against untouchability, and even supported one of Dr. Ambedkar’s early acts of civil disobedience against it, the Mahad satyagraha (Zelliott 2013, p.80). But opposing untouchability is not at all the same as opposing the caste system. There is a long tradition, among the upper castes, of defending the caste system along with opposing untouchability, often dismissed as a recent perversion of it.4
The Hindutva project is a good deal for the upper castes, since it effectively stands for the restoration of the traditional social order that places them at the top. As one might expect, the RSS is particularly popular among the upper castes. Its founders, incidentally, were all Brahmins, as were all the RSS chiefs so far except one (Rajendra Singh, a Rajput), and many other leading figures of the Hindutva movement – Savarkar, Hedgewar, Golwalkar, Nathuram Godse, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Mohan Bhagwat, Ram Madhav, to name a few. Over time, of course, the RSS has expanded its influence beyond the upper castes, but the upper castes remain their most loyal and reliable base.5
In fact, Hindutva has become a kind of lifeboat for the upper castes, as their supremacy came under threat after India’s independence. By and large, of course, the upper castes have managed to retain their power and privileges in the post-independence period. Just to illustrate, in a 2015 survey of the “positions of power and influence” (the university faculty, the bar association, the press club, the top police posts, trade-union leaders, NGO heads, and so on) in the city of Allahabad, we found that 75 % of the “POPIs” had been captured by members of the upper castes, whose share of the population in Uttar Pradesh is just 16% or so. Brahmins and Kayasthas alone accounted for about half of the POPIs. Interestingly, this imbalance was, if anything, more pronounced among civic institutions such as trade unions, NGOs and the press club than in the government sector. Allahabad, of course, is just one city, but many other studies have brought out similar patterns of continued upper-caste dominance in a wide range of contexts – media houses, corporate boards, cricket teams, senior administrative positions, and so on.6
Nevertheless, the upper-caste ship has started leaking from many sides. Education, for instance, used to be a virtual monopoly of the upper castes – at the turn of the 20th century, literacy was the norm among Brahmin men but virtually nil among Dalits.7 Inequality and discrimination certainly persist in the education system today, but in government schools at least Dalit children can claim the same status as upper-caste children. Children of all castes even share the same midday meal, an initiative that did not go down well with many upper-caste parents (Drèze, 2017). The recent introduction of eggs in midday meals in many states also caused much agitation among upper-caste vegetarians.8 Under their influence, most of the states with a BJP government are resisting the inclusion of eggs in school meals to this day.
The schooling system is only one example of a sphere of public life where the upper castes have had to resign themselves to some sharing of power and privilege. The electoral system is another example, even if “adult suffrage and frequent elections are no bar against [the] governing class reaching places of power and authority”, as Dr. Ambedkar put it (Ambedkar, 1945, p 208). The upper castes may be somewhat over-represented in the Lok Sabha, but their share of it is a moderate 29%, in sharp contrast with the overwhelming upper-caste dominance of POPIs in society (Trivedi et al, 2019). At the local level, too, Panchayati Raj Institutions and the reservation of seats for women, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have weakened the grip of the upper castes on political affairs. Similarly, the judicial system restrains the arbitrary power of the upper castes from time to time (for instance in matters of land grab, bonded labour, and untouchability), even if the principle of equality before the law is still far from being realised.
Some economic changes have also undermined the dominant position of the upper castes, at least in rural areas. Many years ago, I had an opportunity to observe a striking example of this process in Palanpur, a village of Moradabad district in western Uttar Pradesh. When we asked Man Singh (name changed), a relatively educated resident of Palanpur, to write down his impressions of recent economic and social change in the village, here is what he wrote (in late 1983):
- Lower castes are passing better life than upper castes. So there has been a great jealousy and hateful-ness for lower castes in the hearts of upper caste people.
- Ratio of education is increasing in low castes very rapidly.
- On the whole, we can say that low castes are going up and upper castes are coming down; this is because the economic condition of lower castes seems better than higher castes people in the modern society.
I could not make sense of this until I understood that by “lower castes”, Man Singh did not mean Dalits but his own caste, the Muraos (one of Uttar Pradesh’s “Other Backward Classes”). With that clue, what he wrote made good sense, and indeed, it was consistent with our own findings: the Muraos, a farming caste, had prospered steadily after the abolition of zamindari and the onset of the Green Revolution – more so than the upper-caste Thakurs. Even as the Thakurs were struggling to keep the appearances of idle landlords (traditionally, they are not supposed to touch the plough), the Muraos were taking to multiple cropping with abandon, installing tubewells, buying more land and – as Man Singh hints – catching up with the Thakurs in matters of education. The Thakurs did not hide their resentment.
Palanpur is just one village, but it turns out that similar patterns have been observed in a good number of village studies.9 I am not suggesting that the relative economic decline of the upper castes is a universal pattern in rural India in the post-independence period, but it seems to be a common pattern at least.
In short, even if the upper castes are still in firm control of many aspects of economic and social life, in some respects they are also losing ground, or in danger of losing ground. Even when the loss of privilege is relatively small, it may be perceived as a major loss.
Of all the ways upper-caste privilege has been challenged in recent decades, perhaps none is more acutely resented by the upper castes than the system of reservation in education and public employment. How far reservation policies have actually reduced education and employment opportunities for the upper castes is not clear — the reservation norms are far from being fully implemented, and they apply mainly in the public sector. What is not in doubt is that these policies have generated a common perception, among the upper castes, that “their” jobs and degrees are being snatched by the SCs, STs , and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).10
As it happens, the revival of the BJP began soon after the V.P. Singh government committed itself to the implementation of the Mandal Commission report on reservation for OBCs, in 1990. This threatened not only to split Hindu society (the upper castes were enraged), but also to alienate OBCs — about 40 per cent of India’s population — from the BJP, opposed as it was to the Mandal Commission recommendations. L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra to Ayodhya, and the events that followed (including the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992), helped to avert this threat of “casteism” and re-unite Hindus on an anti-Muslim platform, under the leadership of the BJP — and of the upper castes.
This is a striking example of Hindutva enabling the upper castes to counter a threat to their privileges and reassert their control over Hindu society. That, indeed, seems to be one of the main functions of the Hindutva movement today. The potential adversaries of this movement are not just Muslims but also Christians, Dalits, Adivasis, communists, secularists, rationalists, feminists, in short anyone who stands or might stand in the way of the restoration of the Brahminical social order. Though it is often called a majoritarian movement, Hindutva is perhaps better described as a movement of the oppressive minority.
One possible objection to this interpretation of the Hindutva movement (or rather, of its rapid growth in recent times) is that Dalits are supporting it in large numbers. This objection, however, is easy to counter. First, it is doubtful that many Dalits really support the RSS or Hindutva ideology. Many did vote for the BJP in the 2019 elections, but that is not the same thing as supporting Hindutva — there are many possible reasons for voting for the BJP. Second, some aspects of the Hindutva movement may appeal to Dalits even if they do not subscribe to Hindutva ideology. For instance, the RSS is known for its vast network of schools, and other kinds of social work, often focused on underprivileged groups. Third, the RSS has gone out of its way to win support among Dalits, not only through social work but also through propaganda, starting with the co-option of Dr. Ambedkar. Objectively speaking, there is no possible meeting ground between Hindutva and Dr. Ambedkar, yet the RSS routinely claims him in one way or another.
Finally, it is arguable that even if Hindutva does not stand for the abolition of caste, its view — and practice — of caste is less oppressive than the caste system as it exists today. Some Dalits may feel that, all said and done, they are treated better in the RSS than in the society at large. As one RSS sympathiser puts it: “Hindutva and the promise of a common Hindu identity always appealed to a large Dalit and OBC castes [sic] as it promises to liberate them from the narrow identity of a weaker caste, and induct them into a powerful Hindu community” (Singh 2019). It is another matter that this “promise” often proves illusory: Bhanwar Meghwanshi’s experience as a Dalit in the RSS is an enlightening example (Meghwanshi, 2020).
As mentioned earlier, the rise of Hindu nationalism should not be confused with the electoral success of the BJP. Nevertheless, the sweeping victory of the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections is also a big victory for the RSS. Most of the top posts in government (prime minister, president, vice-president, speaker of the Lok Sabha, key ministries, many governors, and so on) are now occupied by members or former members of the RSS, firmly committed to the ideology of Hindu nationalism. The quiet revolt of the upper castes against democracy is now taking the form of a more direct attack on democratic institutions, starting with the freedom of expression and dissent. The retreat of democracy and the persistence of caste are in danger of feeding on each other.
Aggarwal, A., Drèze, J.P., and Gupta, A. (2015). “Caste and the power elite in Allahabad”. Economic and Political Weekly, 7 February.
Ambedkar, B.R. (1945), What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables. Bombay: Thacker & Co.
Balagopal, K. (1990)”This anti-Mandal mania”. Economic and Political Weekly, 6 October.
Drèze, Jean (2017). Sense and solidarity: Jholawala economics for everyone. Ranikhet: Permanent Black.
Drèze, J.P., Lanjouw, P., and Sharma, N.K. (1998). ”Economic development in Palanpur, 1957-93". In Lanjouw, P., and Stern, N. (Eds.), Economic development in Palanpur over five decades. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Drèze, J.P., and Sen, Amartya (2013). An uncertain glory: India and its contradictions. London and New Delhi: Penguin.
Gandhi, M.K. (1933). “Religion degraded”. Harijan, 11 February 1933. Reprinted in Gandhi (1964), pp. 12-15.
Gandhi, M.K. (1964).Caste must go and the sin of untouchability, compiled by R.K. Prabhu. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House. Available at www.gandhiheritageportal.org.
Golwalkar, M.S. (1939). We or our nationhood defined. Nagpur: Bharat Publications.
Golwalkar, M.S. (1966). Bunch of thoughts. Bangalore: Vikrama Prakashan.
India Today (2019). “Chhattisgarh BJP MLAs oppose eggs on mid-day meal menu in govt schools”.
Madhav, Ram (2017). “Coming full circle at 70”. Indian Express, 15 August.
Meghwanshi, Bhanwar (2020), I Could Not be Hindu: The Story of a Dalit in the RSS (New Delhi: Navayana).
Savarkar, V.D. (1923). Essentials of Hindutva, later reprinted under the title Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan.
Singh, Abhinav Prakash (2019). “A common Hindu identity has always appealed to OBC and Dalit castes”. Hindustan Times, 18 July.
Trivedi, P., Nissa, B.U., and Bhogale, S. (2019). “From faith to gender and profession to caste: A profile of the 17th Lok Sabha”. Hindustan Times, 25 May.
Zelliott, Eleanor (2013). Ambekdar’s world: The making of Babasaheb and the dalit movement. New Delhi: Navayana.
The sweeping victory of AAP in the closely contested, and the most communalized and divisive elections in the country so far, with RSS/BJP trying with their all might to establish the hegemony of its majoritatian Hindutva in Indian politics is significant. But, based on this victory if it is analyzed that, in spite of the thumping victory of BJP led forces in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the consecutive setbacks it has suffered in the elections to the state assemblies after that, for example in Haryana where it lost its majority, in Maharashtra where it failed to continue the coalition ministry under its leadership, in Jharkhand where it lost power and now in Delhi getting trounced where it had won all Lok Sabha seats with big majority in May last year, it will be wrong.
It is in this context one should see the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagvat in last September: “even if BJP is losing elections, the RSS will be growing”. Why he could make such a confident statement? Since, during the last 4-5 decades, especially after the mid 1970s, the socio-political and economic atmosphere in the country was becoming increasingly conducive for the very fast growth of the RSS and its parivar. A glance through developments during this period is sufficient to substantiate this.
Though Congress under the leadership of Indira Gandhi had won a thumping victory in the 1971 LS elections, India also was impacted by the severe crisis confronting the imperialist powers during this period, which compelled them to adopt the neo-liberal policies. Coupled with the authoritarianism of Indira Gandhi and growing corruption, by the middle of 1970s Congress rule was in crisis following the Navnirman movement in Gujarat, followed by the Jay Prakash Narayan led massive revolt in Bihar against Congress governments there. Faced by them and the court verdict unseating her, Indira Gandhi declared internal emergency curtailing all democratic rights. The right of centre or rightist Congress was weakening. Who will benefit from this, who will occupy the space lost by it, the left or the ultra right became a crucial question.
As far as the left was concerned, internationally itself the socialist camp was disintegrating, with Soviet Union and the East European socialist countries degenerating to capitalist path, and by 1976 in China also the capitalist roaders usurping power. These developments were ideologically, politically and organizationally weakening the communist movement and splintering it. The CPI leadership which was openly following the Soviet revisionist line became camp follower of Congress and supported the emergency, in the name of Indira’s regime’s close relations with Soviet Union. The CPI(M) which was following a centrist line, in spite of the opposition of its then General Secretary Sunderayya, leading even to his resignation from the post, and even after the arrest of many of its activists, decided not to openly oppose the emergency.
As far as the Communist Revolutionary forces who were in CPI(ML) or in other local formations following the Naxalbari uprising, had splintered by that time. Though some of these groups, especially in Bihar tried to utilize the anti-Indira movement, since they had no vision of mobilizing the masses for resisting the emergency, or strength to do this, though all of these groups opposed the emergency, they came under severe suppression and could not do much. On the whole, the the broad spectrum of ‘left’ forces could not use the opportunity to strengthen themselves using the opportunity when Congress was weakening and people were seeking an alternative. As far as the socialist stream was concerned, they had already splintered, and because of their opposition to the communist movement had started compromising with the ultra right trend getting strengthened under the umbrella of JP.
By this time, the ultra right forces led by RSS and its then political front, Jan Sangh, had already emerged as a sizable parliamentary force in the 1967 general elections in the Hindi belt, had formed united front governments with some of the opposition parties including even CPI, and was trying to end its isolation from the masses following its assassination of Gandhi in 1948. It entered the Gujarat and Bihar movements against Congress rule, joined the JP movement with all its might. As a result, it could become one of the main ruling class forces opposing the emergency. Though the undivided CPI had dissolved all its secret fractions within the armed forces in 1952 at the beginning of its right deviation itself, from the very beginning RSS was effectively pursuing the policy of penetrating every sphere, including major political parties like the Congress, spreading its Brahmanical, Hindu Rashtra concept and creating organizational hold. It penetrated the JP movement effectively.
After withdrawal of emergency, when Janata party was formed, which defeated Congress in 1977 elections and came to power, Jan Sangh had become part of it and became a powerful component of it. When the Janata Party splitted in 1979, the BJP was formed in the place of Jan Sangh. Since it had got acceptability among the ruling class parties by this time, and the RSS parivar had strengthened and spread to more areas, participating in joint mass struggles, the fact that BJP is the political front of RSS which works for transforming India to Hindu Rashtra, diametrically opposed to the concepts of Indian Constitution was, in effect, neglected.
As the CPI which aligned with Jan Sangh in 1967 to form united front governments in some of the Hindi speaking states, and it along with CPI(M) had aligned with Muslim League like forces in Kerala and West Bengal to form United Front governments in the same year, they had no political position against giving recognition to BJP. In effect, nobody in the parliamentary political stream, had recognized the danger posed by the fascist RSS and its parivar, though occasionally RSS was criticized for its role in the assassination of Gabdhiji. By this time the whole spectrum of parliamentary was using communal and caste appeasement as part of vote bank politics. With this acceptability, BJP and behind it RSS started growing very fast in all the states, spreading its Hindu Rashtra concept along with its sakhas.
Though RSS/BJP always try to distance themselves from the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, RSS had an active role in this along with Congress. In the elections to LS same year, RSS openly supported Congress. While Congress won with record majority in the history of the LS, BJP’s strength sharply fell to just 2. By this time, Congress had already shifted from its affinity to SU, and was taking pro-US positions at international level. In some fields, Rajiv government started neo-liberal approach also, following a huge IMF loan. Under RSS pressure, Jagmohan, an RSS cadre, was made governor of J&K. He created havoc paving the way for communal srife, leading to the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits and worsening the situation there.
Following the compromising line taken in the Shahbano case, under RSS pressure, Rajiv govt opened the Babri Masjid closed down in 1949, for Shilanyas, allowing the Hindutva forces to start worshipping at the place where the Ram idols were stealthily kept in 1949. By 1989 election time, RSS and BJP had grown manifold. When VP Singh splitted from Congress and formed Janata Dal, he formed an alliance with BJP on the one hand and adjustment with CPI(M) led Left Front on the other to fight Congress. In the election BJP’s strength leaped from 2 to 84! While VP Singh led JD government was formed, spreading manipulated falsehoods about Babri Masjid, putting forward the demand for replacing it with Ram temple, RSS and its parivar with top leaders of BJP in the forefront, launched the rath yatra from Somnath temple in Gujarat with this demand, provoking communal along its path, till it was stopped in Bihar.
To combat this Kamandal march, VP Singh government published Mandal Commission Report and based on it, reservation to OBCs also was announced. BJP led the violent anti-reservation struggle and withdrew support to his govt. In 1991 elections BJP contested mainly putting forward Ram temple issue violating all secular principles and election rules based on it, increasing its strength to 90 plus. While, the minority Narasimha Rao led Congress government adopted neo-liberal policies of Liberalization-Globalization- Privatization under IMF-World Bank advice, it resorted to double talk, claiming to oppose it outside, but never voting against it inside parliament.
At the same time, RSS and its parivar intensified the temple movement with all their might, demolishing the Babri Masjid in December, 1992, with the help of Congress government at centre which did not to protect it, though assurances were given to protect it to the Supreme Court. RSS parivar unleashed communal riots at many places. Both Congress and BJP were happy that the attention was diverted from the growing people’s movements against the neo-liberal policies to temple issue. While Congress led government followed by the two United Front governments got alienated due to the consequences of the neo-liberal policies they were pursuing, BJP along with RSS went on strengthening. RSS became increasingly strident starting to Hindutva Radicalization provocatively in its strongholds like Gujarat. After 1998 elections briefly, followed by 1999 elections, when BJP led NDA government came to power with Vajpayee as prime minister, on the one hand it speeded up implementation of the neo-liberal/corporate policies. At the same time, it intensified efforts to speed up the radicalization process as much as possible. Though BJP was slow in it at centre as it had not majority of its own in the Lok Sabha and as it was very much a minority in the Rajya Sabha. But, RSS experimented its Hindutva radicalization in Gujarat under Modi in 2002, resorting to the pogrom in which more than 2000 Muslims were killed, women were raped, houses were burnt, rendering tens of thousands of families homeless. It was the beginning of the fascist offensive by the RSS parivar.
It was during the Vajpayee government’s time, especially following the Gujarat pogrom, the fascist discourse started in the country. Still, when the Congress led UPA came to power defeating the BJP rule in 2004, it soon forgot the gravity of the situation. While the Manmohan Singh government merrily went ahead implementing the neo-liberal policies, it did not bother to take up the Gujarat pogrom cases with the importance they called for. Though the cases involving Muslim culprits were soon processed and culprits punished, Malegaon like cases in which Pragya Thakur (present MP) is the main accused went on indefinitely. UPA government did not make an evaluation of the Hindutva projects implemented by the Vajpayee government including the 2013 amendments to the 1955 Citizenship Act introducing the NPR and construction of Detention Camps, and reject what is harmful to the existing secular concepts.
On the contrary it went ahead with its soft Hindutva policies to strengthen the vote bank. As corruption became rampant, it used constitutional institutions and enforcement directorates to make the opposition leaders who had corruption charges against them, to fall in line. The Left Front government in W. Bengal in its bid to speed up neoliberal policies fell in 2011 and the whole LF got a setback. In this situation, RSS and its parivar could continue to strengthen its Hindutva offensive without any serious challenge from the UPA government, or from the CPI(M) like parties. So, by the time of 2014 elections, not only Congress and the UPA parties and except BJP led NDA, all other opposition parties were under allegations of corruption or nepotism, seriously alienated from the people. Allegations of corruption were coming forward against many ministers. It was in this atmosphere of all-round corruption charges, Anna Hazare, an old Gandhiyan, launched an anti-corruption movement, with massive mobilization at Ram Lila Grounds, Delhi, demanding the appointment of the Lokpal immediately. It was evident that BJP was very much behind it. In mobilizing support RSS played an important role. Many voluntary organizations as well as large number of bourgeois and petti-bourgeois individuals and groups also got involved in it actively. This included Aravind Kejriwal, present Delhi chief minister, and many of his AAP activists also. The UPA was pushed to more defensive positions.
Using this strong anti-incumbency, anti-UPA atmosphere, and by putting forward a very populist manifesto, the NDA could get comfortable majority with BJP’s position further strengthened. It was like the Congress and other opposition parties who refused to recognize the fascist danger posed by the RSS through BJP rule, and who had no alternative to provide, giving something like a easy walk over for BJP led NDA to come to power under Modi’s leadership.
Very soon RSS plans were clear. It started coming to the forefront more frequently to lead the Hindutva radicalization and under it, in order to intensify the fascistization plans were made for saffronizing the state machinery, as well as all constitutional institutions. What Ambedkar warned was happening. After coming to power through the constitutional process, Modi government started undermining the Constitution and whatever secular, democratic values existed. But, still many of the parties, not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but also CPI(M) led parties refused to recognize the fascistization taking place in front of them; Many of them theorized fascism cannot come to countries like India. Meanwhile, spreading islamophobia, calling everyone opposed to Modi rule anti-national, terrorist had started. So also, the mob lynching, attacks on dalits and women increased. Modi -1 was merrily advancing along the path of intensifying corporate fascist policies. As the opposition parties could not understand the real threat in front of them, they continued to remain arrogant and sectarian; they failed to give a united fight to Modi in the 2019 elections. By that time, the economy was in doldrums and the people were getting devastated through loss of job, unemployment and price rise.
But, by side lining all these issues, spreading muscular nationalism using Pulwama followed by Balakot, BJP got a thumping victory, getting of its own majority in the LS. The rest is very recent history. From Lok Sabha to panchayat, under RSS guidance, BJP is fighting the elections imposing majoritarian Hindutva campaign, terrorizing the opponents, dubbing them Pak agents and traitors. Hindutva radicalization is taken to its zenith, creating atmosphere of extreme hatred and divisiveness; an explosive situation when anything can happen any time. So, even if BJP loses, the RSS fascist steam roller shall push forward, smashing everything before it. This is Hindutva radicalization led by RSS pushing forward fascistization has taken the country to!
The students, youth and women who are spearheading the present upsurge have not made any theorization; they did not wait for classical fascism to come; but when the saffronized Delhi police savagely attacked the Jamia students on 15th December night, they could understand what we saw in Gujarat in 2002 in microform has broken out at all India level, using the banner of AA, NPR, NRC. They had only one option before them, either perish, or resist and advance. They have taken the second path; Shaheen Bagh, and the hundreds of Shaheen Baghs coming up literally all over the country practically everyday reflect this situation. The saffronized Supreme Court is becoming impatient; the Brahminical lords sitting there have started asking: how long this will continue, you have to come under rules and regulations! But the people are retorting by saying, we shall continue till you take back your draconian acts, or till you are thrown out. This is the positive side of the present situation.
But the negative side is that Hindutva radicalization continuing for decades have made the fascist challenge really big. To challenge and demolish it, on the one hand, the ongoing movement has to be carried forward and continuously expanded; at the same time, the struggling people have to be politicized and mobilized for a protracted movement. Are we prepared to take up this challenge, putting forward a people’s alternative before the struggling masses and lead them forward?
The above over view shows how the political degeneration of the parliamentary parties from Congress to social democrats provided the opening for the fascists to reach this stage. Still how many of them are really concerned? How the revolutionary left forces, however small they may be, can we united, speeding forward the party building? Let us take up these cardinal issues on an emergency basis. It is the cardinal question before all those opposed to this fascist reality!