Yesterday , while watching the trailer of Subh Mangal Zyada Savdhan trailer something not short of a revelation dawn on me. I was watching a trailer of a gay love story set in Hindi heartland ( cow belt ) while living under a fascist regime. Wow…what? Really?. Then as I started scrolling down to the comment section it got worse. Almost all of the comments were enthusiastic about the concept and surprisingly those who sneered were heavily trolled. But how can this happen during a Nazisque administration , weren’t the homosexuals sent to concentration camps in droves under Hitler?. This is were the English language media narrative about the ruling dispension at the centre starts to unravel.
The problem starts with the liberal belief that globalization is a done deal and hence human beings around the world now constitute a monolith. This generalisation is not restricted to the present but they also see parallels from the past to what is happening today. This lopsided worldview , which clouds their judgement stems from the lack of exposure to the real world outside their echo chambers. Let’s analyse this argument with the prime example of BJP and the duo who call the shots at the centre.
Firstly let us look at the statement – “BJP is a right wing communal party” . Now let us dissect the statement. There is the allegation of being right wing and there is that of being communal. BJP is a nationalist party that prides itself in India’s past glory. Hinduism being the indigeneous religion of the land , it would be natural for them to identify themselves with it. Together with this there is a staunch anti Islamic bias. This stems from the belief that the glorious Indian civilisation started to decline with the Islamic conquest and the ravages it brought with it culminated with the partition of Bharat Mata. For the party and its supporters the fight against Islam is the fight for survival and it is ethical to take any route to success including riots. So BJP is communal.
Now let us look into the right wing aspect of BJP. Though Hinduism is the basis of the party ideology , it cannot be called right wing conservatism. Here is where the anglicised journalists starts to go astray. Hinduism is not a monolithic like Christianity or Islam and is basically an amalgamation of multitude of local beliefs. So one cannot have a Iranian style theocracy in this diverse and more populous land. Brahminism or the priesthood version of vedic religion is being projected as what Hinduism will metamorphosise into under a prolonged spell of BJP rule. But the critics fail to notice the broader caste base of the party cadre today and the anti caste stand of the parent organisation the RSS Moreover the RSS blame the lack of unity that was prevalent during the medieval period as the main reason for the ascend of Islamic forces. So BJP cannot be called conservative in terms of casteism , Moreover it is the least casteist political party in India ( if we look at the caste make up of the top leadership ) and it would rank second behind the BSP in Dalit participation. The failure to notice the difference between BJP and the other conservative entities in the West arises from the elite’s tendency to extrapolate western idioms into Indian reality. In Europe conservative parties are seen as the extension of the dominant church of that country , but India lacks a national church and the dominant religion lacks a theology. Take the movie which we started this post with – subh mangal zyada savdhan , In a western reality homosexuality is a sin and hence the conservatives would be up in arms ( The social reality in the West today cannot be equated with ours as it is more woke , so let’s take the reference point as the 1990s). But Hinduism is vague about sexual ideals and some of the puranic stories even endorse homosexuality. This has resulted in lesser opposition to the removal of article 377 or commercial release of movies with similar story lines. So the argument about BJP’s conservatism also falls apart.
Now comes the most important part – the economic one. All the right wing parties from the conservatives in UK to Republicans in the US are spokespersons of extreme capitalism and globalisation. BJP is an exception here too. Its main ideology is much closer to the left than even congress’s . The cold reception Jeff Bezos received in India shows the movement of BJP closer to the RSS dream of a self sufficient Bharat. In this respect one could see the adoration the BJP cadre has for China , which they yearn to simulate here. The capitalistic set up BJP yearn is also similar to the Chinese government controlled market place with more emphasis on MSME sector. Though the media celebrate the Modi – Ambani nexus , it totally ignores the impetus the government provides for startups and smaller industries. MSME sector is an extrapolation of Gandhian self sufficient Villages in the modern era , which the RSS endorses at great length. Hence it would be correct to call BJP a centre left party in the economic ecosystem.
This is what BJP is , it is a Nationalist Hindu party which is moderately conservative with a centre left ideology. Seeing this party through a western lense cannot help us explain its success or its ever consistent support among the masses.
The average Indian is a nationalist to the core ( Have anyone seen the number of reaction videos on YouTube by foreigners and the self appreciating Indian comments on those pages ) and Hindu ( they make up 80% of the population). The Hindus today are more proud of their heritage than they were 20 years ago thanks to the free flow of information ( or misinformation) through internet and sees no problem in asserting their right over their land. Indians are also sceptical of the elite especially the English speaking upper wafer thin crust who mock at every turn , the liberal culture is often associated with this group and as a counter reaction the masses gravitated towards the moderate conservatism of BJP. The liberal media have painted the anti CAA protests as a student revolt , but the reality is that the protests are limited to a few minority institutions and the left fortress of JNU. Most Indian students come under the category of silent majority that supports the ruling party and are happy with the actions of the government even the fatal shootings. Ordinary Indians also hate the old rich and their previleges , so Modi supporting a self made Ambani group ( thanks to the movie Guru ) is acceptable while a dynast like Rahul Bajaj preaching them sanity is anathema. Unlike the West where the “ordinary” people are the rural white collar folks , Indians come in all hues with the richest to the poorest United by nationalism. This group is inherently centre left due to their disdain for the rich from the license Raj era ( old money ). This brings me to my conclusion that it is not the BJP that moulds the people as the elite in the media wants us to believe but the people who see their projection in BJP or in short the success of BJP can be attributed to the rise of a Nationalistic Hindu populace with a centre left ideology.