You are here: Home » Current Affairs » News » National
Business Standard

Cow to temple politics: BJP strategy is about propagating Hindu nationalism

Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay 

Cattle trade ban, Cattle, Cows
Rescued cattle are seen at a "goushala", or cow shelter, run by Bharatiya Gou Rakshan Parishad, an arm of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at Aangaon village in Maharashtra

In the second week of January 1993, Bharatiya Janata Party's undisputed leader of the time, LK Advani, addressing a press conference after his release from detention post demolition of the Babri Masjid, stupefied journalists with the declaration that the Ayodhya agitation was not all about constructing a Ram temple. 

Few understood the importance of his claim and even fewer had clarity on what the idea denoted. Little was known - barely a quarter of a century ago - how the nation, nationhood and nationalism was differently constructed in the discourse of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates when compared to its ideological adversaries. Advani elaborated that popularising the idea of cultural nationalism was the primary objective of the Ram temple agitation. 

But for a handful, none understood the implication and seriousness of Advani's assertion. Many interpreted this as evidence of the BJP abandoning the demand for a new resplendent Ram temple. Post-demolition, the BJP grappled with new challenges, most importantly, recovering from the setback following defeat in assembly polls in 1993 in the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. 

From a party which claimed in 1991 to be the 'government in waiting', the BJP grappled with new issues in post-liberalisation India. But, the most important challenge was to overcome hurdles in the way of expanding its social base and attracting political allies, so vital in the run up to 1996 parliamentary elections.

Advani making way for Atal Bihari Vajpayee was interpreted as evidence of temple politics being cast aside. After he became prime minister, the Vajpayee-led BJP relegated three contentious issues on the party agenda to the backseat. Leaders explained that the party could not push for Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370 without a majority of its own. 

Yet, Vajpayee defended the principle of the Ram temple. In a stirring speech in Lok Sabha in December 2000, he declared that the agitation symbolised aspiration and ideals but added a rider, the temple would be constructed lawfully within the framework of the Constitution. 

In the years since then, the temple has existed as an important clarion call. In the absence of the 'symbol of Hindu subjugation' - the Babri Masjid - the Sangh Parivar never could again mobilise supporters in tens of thousands but the temple remains an objective in popular imagination.

In 2002, it was a Vishwa Hindu Parishad programme in Ayodhya which was at the root of Narendra Modi's emergence. Belligerent Karsevaks who were scorched to death inside the ill-fated coach of Sabarmati Express were returning home after participating for days in the VHP agitation precipitated an unprecedented cycle of violence. Modi became a figure only thereafter.

In the run up to the recent elections in UP, the upped the ante on Ayodhya by announcing the Ram museum plan. Recently, Yogi Adityanath became the first chief minister in fifteen years to visit the disputed site and offer prayers at the makeshift temple. This establishes the centrality of the Ram temple in the BJP's politics. However, the temple is not an end in itself but is part of a larger construct. 

In the past three years, the BJP and its government has raked a number of issues to widen support. It appeared that the focus has shifted away from the Ram temple but there has never been any doubt that each of the divisive issues have pushed acceptance of the idea and defining nationalism on a basis of a religio-cultural basis. 

In the past three years campaigns against so-called 'love jihad' by Muslims, ghar wapsi programme, the sustained campaign against animal slaughter and the campaign on triple talaaq has deflected attention from the BJP's inability to kickstart construction in Ayodhya due to legal hurdles.

Issues were obfuscated by linking 'love jihad' or the programme of anti-Romeo squads with the meat industry. It is argued by foot soldiers of the Parivar that rampant appeasement by previous governments enabled Muslims engaged in slaughtering different animals and processing various meat products to become more prosperous. The economic empowerment made Muslim youth more brazen and they targeted Hindu girls, first attempting to woo them and if this failed, then harassing or molesting them.

The anti-campaign has been given a clear communal tone by blurring lines between different categories of cattle - milch cows, buffalos, bullocks and cows that become an economic liability after they stopped yielding milk. These campaigns have an advantage over the temple agitation. It is no longer necessary to go to Ayodhya and be part of the 'Hindu cause'. People have been given local avenues to feel part of a resurgent political community.

There is also no need to be a cow vigilante and remain awake at night to wreak havoc on cattle traders. The two-bit for the nation or Rashtra can be contributed from home by even handing out two rotis for gau sevaks who are now more active than ever before or even forwarding a social media message. 

Just as the Ayodhya agitation, as Advani explained, was not just for constructing a temple after demolishing a sixteenth-century decrepit mosque, the present campaign is not restricted to protecting cows or uplifting the social status of Muslim women. These myriad programme are linked by commitment to a much wider political agenda - propagation of or the idea of Hindu nationalism. Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

Writer and journalist based in Delhi. His most recent books are Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984 and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. He can be reached on Twitter at @NilanjanUdwin

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Cow to temple politics: BJP strategy is about propagating Hindu nationalism

Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.
In the second week of January 1993, Bharatiya Janata Party's undisputed leader of the time, LK Advani, addressing a press conference after his release from detention post demolition of the Babri Masjid, stupefied journalists with the declaration that the Ayodhya agitation was not all about constructing a Ram temple. 

Few understood the importance of his claim and even fewer had clarity on what the idea denoted. Little was known - barely a quarter of a century ago - how the nation, nationhood and nationalism was differently constructed in the discourse of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates when compared to its ideological adversaries. Advani elaborated that popularising the idea of cultural nationalism was the primary objective of the Ram temple agitation. 

But for a handful, none understood the implication and seriousness of Advani's assertion. Many interpreted this as evidence of the BJP abandoning the demand for a new resplendent Ram temple. Post-demolition, the BJP grappled with new challenges, most importantly, recovering from the setback following defeat in assembly polls in 1993 in the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. 

From a party which claimed in 1991 to be the 'government in waiting', the BJP grappled with new issues in post-liberalisation India. But, the most important challenge was to overcome hurdles in the way of expanding its social base and attracting political allies, so vital in the run up to 1996 parliamentary elections.

Advani making way for Atal Bihari Vajpayee was interpreted as evidence of temple politics being cast aside. After he became prime minister, the Vajpayee-led BJP relegated three contentious issues on the party agenda to the backseat. Leaders explained that the party could not push for Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370 without a majority of its own. 

Yet, Vajpayee defended the principle of the Ram temple. In a stirring speech in Lok Sabha in December 2000, he declared that the agitation symbolised aspiration and ideals but added a rider, the temple would be constructed lawfully within the framework of the Constitution. 

In the years since then, the temple has existed as an important clarion call. In the absence of the 'symbol of Hindu subjugation' - the Babri Masjid - the Sangh Parivar never could again mobilise supporters in tens of thousands but the temple remains an objective in popular imagination.

In 2002, it was a Vishwa Hindu Parishad programme in Ayodhya which was at the root of Narendra Modi's emergence. Belligerent Karsevaks who were scorched to death inside the ill-fated coach of Sabarmati Express were returning home after participating for days in the VHP agitation precipitated an unprecedented cycle of violence. Modi became a figure only thereafter.

In the run up to the recent elections in UP, the upped the ante on Ayodhya by announcing the Ram museum plan. Recently, Yogi Adityanath became the first chief minister in fifteen years to visit the disputed site and offer prayers at the makeshift temple. This establishes the centrality of the Ram temple in the BJP's politics. However, the temple is not an end in itself but is part of a larger construct. 

In the past three years, the BJP and its government has raked a number of issues to widen support. It appeared that the focus has shifted away from the Ram temple but there has never been any doubt that each of the divisive issues have pushed acceptance of the idea and defining nationalism on a basis of a religio-cultural basis. 

In the past three years campaigns against so-called 'love jihad' by Muslims, ghar wapsi programme, the sustained campaign against animal slaughter and the campaign on triple talaaq has deflected attention from the BJP's inability to kickstart construction in Ayodhya due to legal hurdles.

Issues were obfuscated by linking 'love jihad' or the programme of anti-Romeo squads with the meat industry. It is argued by foot soldiers of the Parivar that rampant appeasement by previous governments enabled Muslims engaged in slaughtering different animals and processing various meat products to become more prosperous. The economic empowerment made Muslim youth more brazen and they targeted Hindu girls, first attempting to woo them and if this failed, then harassing or molesting them.

The anti-campaign has been given a clear communal tone by blurring lines between different categories of cattle - milch cows, buffalos, bullocks and cows that become an economic liability after they stopped yielding milk. These campaigns have an advantage over the temple agitation. It is no longer necessary to go to Ayodhya and be part of the 'Hindu cause'. People have been given local avenues to feel part of a resurgent political community.

There is also no need to be a cow vigilante and remain awake at night to wreak havoc on cattle traders. The two-bit for the nation or Rashtra can be contributed from home by even handing out two rotis for gau sevaks who are now more active than ever before or even forwarding a social media message. 

Just as the Ayodhya agitation, as Advani explained, was not just for constructing a temple after demolishing a sixteenth-century decrepit mosque, the present campaign is not restricted to protecting cows or uplifting the social status of Muslim women. These myriad programme are linked by commitment to a much wider political agenda - propagation of or the idea of Hindu nationalism. Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

Writer and journalist based in Delhi. His most recent books are Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984 and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. He can be reached on Twitter at @NilanjanUdwin

image
Business Standard
177 22

Cow to temple politics: BJP strategy is about propagating Hindu nationalism

Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

In the second week of January 1993, Bharatiya Janata Party's undisputed leader of the time, LK Advani, addressing a press conference after his release from detention post demolition of the Babri Masjid, stupefied journalists with the declaration that the Ayodhya agitation was not all about constructing a Ram temple. 

Few understood the importance of his claim and even fewer had clarity on what the idea denoted. Little was known - barely a quarter of a century ago - how the nation, nationhood and nationalism was differently constructed in the discourse of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates when compared to its ideological adversaries. Advani elaborated that popularising the idea of cultural nationalism was the primary objective of the Ram temple agitation. 

But for a handful, none understood the implication and seriousness of Advani's assertion. Many interpreted this as evidence of the BJP abandoning the demand for a new resplendent Ram temple. Post-demolition, the BJP grappled with new challenges, most importantly, recovering from the setback following defeat in assembly polls in 1993 in the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. 

From a party which claimed in 1991 to be the 'government in waiting', the BJP grappled with new issues in post-liberalisation India. But, the most important challenge was to overcome hurdles in the way of expanding its social base and attracting political allies, so vital in the run up to 1996 parliamentary elections.

Advani making way for Atal Bihari Vajpayee was interpreted as evidence of temple politics being cast aside. After he became prime minister, the Vajpayee-led BJP relegated three contentious issues on the party agenda to the backseat. Leaders explained that the party could not push for Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370 without a majority of its own. 

Yet, Vajpayee defended the principle of the Ram temple. In a stirring speech in Lok Sabha in December 2000, he declared that the agitation symbolised aspiration and ideals but added a rider, the temple would be constructed lawfully within the framework of the Constitution. 

In the years since then, the temple has existed as an important clarion call. In the absence of the 'symbol of Hindu subjugation' - the Babri Masjid - the Sangh Parivar never could again mobilise supporters in tens of thousands but the temple remains an objective in popular imagination.

In 2002, it was a Vishwa Hindu Parishad programme in Ayodhya which was at the root of Narendra Modi's emergence. Belligerent Karsevaks who were scorched to death inside the ill-fated coach of Sabarmati Express were returning home after participating for days in the VHP agitation precipitated an unprecedented cycle of violence. Modi became a figure only thereafter.

In the run up to the recent elections in UP, the upped the ante on Ayodhya by announcing the Ram museum plan. Recently, Yogi Adityanath became the first chief minister in fifteen years to visit the disputed site and offer prayers at the makeshift temple. This establishes the centrality of the Ram temple in the BJP's politics. However, the temple is not an end in itself but is part of a larger construct. 

In the past three years, the BJP and its government has raked a number of issues to widen support. It appeared that the focus has shifted away from the Ram temple but there has never been any doubt that each of the divisive issues have pushed acceptance of the idea and defining nationalism on a basis of a religio-cultural basis. 

In the past three years campaigns against so-called 'love jihad' by Muslims, ghar wapsi programme, the sustained campaign against animal slaughter and the campaign on triple talaaq has deflected attention from the BJP's inability to kickstart construction in Ayodhya due to legal hurdles.

Issues were obfuscated by linking 'love jihad' or the programme of anti-Romeo squads with the meat industry. It is argued by foot soldiers of the Parivar that rampant appeasement by previous governments enabled Muslims engaged in slaughtering different animals and processing various meat products to become more prosperous. The economic empowerment made Muslim youth more brazen and they targeted Hindu girls, first attempting to woo them and if this failed, then harassing or molesting them.

The anti-campaign has been given a clear communal tone by blurring lines between different categories of cattle - milch cows, buffalos, bullocks and cows that become an economic liability after they stopped yielding milk. These campaigns have an advantage over the temple agitation. It is no longer necessary to go to Ayodhya and be part of the 'Hindu cause'. People have been given local avenues to feel part of a resurgent political community.

There is also no need to be a cow vigilante and remain awake at night to wreak havoc on cattle traders. The two-bit for the nation or Rashtra can be contributed from home by even handing out two rotis for gau sevaks who are now more active than ever before or even forwarding a social media message. 

Just as the Ayodhya agitation, as Advani explained, was not just for constructing a temple after demolishing a sixteenth-century decrepit mosque, the present campaign is not restricted to protecting cows or uplifting the social status of Muslim women. These myriad programme are linked by commitment to a much wider political agenda - propagation of or the idea of Hindu nationalism. Polarisation is the principle goal though ways to achieve this are several.

Writer and journalist based in Delhi. His most recent books are Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984 and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. He can be reached on Twitter at @NilanjanUdwin

image
Business Standard
177 22