Hindu Right wins Indian election with more seats and votes

The long drawn out Indian Parliament elections finally got over last week. The right-wing Hindutva party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP, was voted back to power with more votes and seats than last time.

Though it was certain that BJP will be leading the seat tally, many thought they may not get the majority on their own. But when the results came in, it became clear that BJP is stronger than ever before, bettering the Modi ‘wave’ of 2014. Out of the 542 seats that went to polls, BJP lead National Democratic Alliance won 353 with BJP alone winning 303. This was an improvement by 6.5% of vote share and 17 seats for the NDA.


The result has stunned the liberal intelligentsia not only in India but also among India watchers all over the world.

How can a government with a questionable track record and nothing to boast off as performance win the elections with more votes and seats ?

Several commentators have come with different explanations. The explanations offered I feel can be consolidated into three streams.

One set of commentators felt that the stunning BJP victory is due to the  good work of the Modi government. They opined that even though the macro economic indicators did not augur well for the government, the voters were satisfied enough to give Modi a second chance. Moreover they felt that Modi and BJP was seen to be less corrupt, more efficient in governance and more effective in tackling issues like terrorism and national security. According to them BJP successfully made the election a presidential one and the aura of Modi prevailed over other things.

On the other hand another set of commentators lamented that the election results showed the effect of rigging of the Hindu mind. As per their view average Hindu voter has become intolerant of the concept of secularism and has voted for a majoritarian India where minorities are second class citizens who should live only at the mercy of the Hindu majority. They claimed that the high decibel propaganda of umpteen number of cash rich Hindutva organisations using mainstream media and social media using falsehoods and half-truths rigged minds of a large section of voters to such an extend that non-performance of the Modi government did not stop them from voting for BJP.

A third view was that the victory of BJP was mainly because of propaganda. There was a huge mismatch in money spend by BJP and the rest. The huge amount BJP got from anonymous donors using the recently introduced Electoral bonds made BJP propaganda very powerful. Also BJP had a stranglehold on mass media, both in government and private sector which they used effectively to create an aura of invincibility to Modi. Use of big Data to tailor-made their appeal to different sections of voters and use of fake news through social media powered BJP victory.

My take is there may be truth is some points in all the three streams of opinion.

Pre and post poll surveys showed that Modi lead BJP was considered to be less corrupt and fairly large number of electorate was reasonably happy with the  Government’s performance. Even though Modi government was seen to be giving away huge incentives to big Industrialists at the expense of the State, the opposition were not able to convey that message to large section of electorate.

The bombing inside Pakistan at Balakot in retaliation to terror attack on Indian security personal in Kashmir boosted the popularity of Modi. Even though there was no strong evidence to show that India attained anything by that attack the hyper nationalist fervour that it generated helped BJP a lot.

The Hindutva propaganda  for a Hindu State to replace secular India has been going on ever since the origin of the semi fascist Hindu voluntary organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1925. BJP, which is the political wing of RSS, used its time in the government in the Centre and States to further this agenda.

Hinduism do not have a church or a Pope and is a very diverse and decentralised way of belief. With umpteen number of castes and fairly rigid caste hierarchy it was difficult for a person or an organisation to control it. This was a major stumbling block for the BJP  to create a unified Hindu vote bank.  To overcome it the RSS has been systematically infiltrating Hindu organisations all over India. Even though the leadership of the RSS is firmly in the hands of upper caste Maharashtra Brahmins, they were successful in infiltrating different caste organisations and temple trusts so as to control them. Almost all  Hindu pilgrimages are now controlled by RSS. Each pilgrim is indoctrinated with myths and falsehoods which demonize minorities while fuelling the insecurities of Hindus and deride secularism. Such a relentless cash rich campaign must have had some effect in voting pattern of this election.

This election also showed that not only Muslim candidates were shunned , but in seats where there is a sizeable presence of Muslim voters, there was a huge Hindu consolidation against political parties which were actively seeking votes from Muslims. Thus the Congress, Samajvadi Party , BSP, RJD and TMC lost many of their traditional Hindu voters to BJP. Even the TRS in Telangana  paid the price for allying with Owaisi’s party. Such trends indicate that  othering of Muslims in Indian society is now at a dangerous level. The easy victory of Hindutva terror accused who is facing the charge of killing innocent Muslims also show that large section of Indian society has been sold to the idea that minorities are second class citizens living at the mercy and whims and fancies of majority community.

So is secularism dead in India ? Will majoritarianism  always rule in the future ?

Indian society was always a deeply religious society. It was also a society divided by strict hierarchy of caste. As caste based jobs disappear with industrialisation and urbanisation, and as villagers shift to city slums in search of jobs, caste based voting is on the decline. At the same time superstitious religious beliefs deepened. The RSS and it’s affiliates has now a monopoly control on most of the Hindu temples. Thus they were successful in creating a Hindu identity among the people. Even among backward castes and Dalits they could succeed because instead of the Liberals who constantly remind them of past and present caste oppression, the Sangh Parivar was able to appropriate them as “proud” foot soldiers of Hindutva movement.

This time the Hindutva alliance of NDA got around 45% of votes and 65% seats. Hindus constitute around 80% of Indian population. That means a sizeable section of Hindus has voted against NDA. Moreover many who has voted for BJP might have voted because they fell for the propaganda. If Modi government continues to perform in a lacklustre way, if the day-to-day issues of the people at large are not addressed satisfactorily, many of these voters will shun the BJP in future elections. If they have a credible Opposition to vote for they will unseat BJP in more states and even in the Centre. So to conclude that secularism is dead and buried in India will be premature.


Constitutional morality triumphs over Societal morality

Today, September 6, 2018 was a historical day for India.

Today the Supreme Court of  India upheld the point of view that Constitutional morality should rule over societal morality. That means the morality that is envisaged by the Indian Constitution of 1950, a democratic liberal morality that ensures freedom of expression and equality before law should triumph over societal morality which considers some Indian citizens, those belonging to LGBTQ community, unequal.

Pic Courtesy Times of India

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But what was she wearing ?

If you want to do something to reduce or end sexual harassment in workplaces you can help in the making of this documentary film based on this subject. The film titled “But what was she wearing ” is looking for funding from public.

Chennai-based Vaishnavi Sundar defines herself as an independent filmmaker, writer, theatre actor and social justice activist.

She has been making films for the past five years, with a focus on gender issues. She’s also the founder of Lime Soda Films, which makes grassroots films on social issues and documentaries.

Image credit – Newsminute

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Will Modi prove Jinnah was right ?

This week the neighbours of the sub continent , India and Pakistan,  are celebrating the 70th anniversary of getting independence from British rule.

The paths followed by the two new nations were divergent , Pakistan becoming an Islamic state and India choosing a secular path with no state religion and many state sponsored support system for minorities and Dalits to ensure they can thrive in the society.

But in recent years the paths are converging. India under Hindutva leader Modi is becoming more and more like Pakistan.

India and Pakistan are also remembering the 70th anniversary of bloody partition which saw millions die. Jinnah, the most forceful proponent of Pakistan insisted on partition warning that Muslims in a predominantly Hindu India would be severely suppressed. Now it seems Modi and the Sangh are proving Jinnah was right.

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Leprosy surges in India

Leprosy it seems is making a come back at least in some parts of India.

Leprosy may have left the public discourse but it is still prevalent in India: in six months from April to September 2016, 79,000 leprosy cases were detected, according toNational Health Profile, 2017.

Leprosy is a slow progressive disease that damages the skin and the nervous system.Caused due to infection by Mycobacterium leprae, it leads to skin lesions, disfigurement and loss of sensation in limbs

Uttar Pradesh had the most number of cases (13,423) but it was the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli that has the highest prevalence of 7.93 per 10,000, which means nearly 8 people in 10,000 have leprosy.

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India – The good, bad and the ugly

Three news stories coming out from India this week highlight how unequal the country is in regard to scientific temper and use of science and technology.

First the good news.

India’s space agency debuted a massive rocket on Monday, launching it from the southeastern barrier island of Sriharikota. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk III) will function mainly as a delivery system for heavier satellites, but the Indian Space Research Organization hopes that it can one day carry a manned mission — the country’s first — beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Image courtesy PTI

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Designer babies – Hindutva style

The RSS, the parent organisation of Hindutva based political and cultural movement in India, was always obsessed with racial purity and a staunch believer in greatness of traditional Indian health care system, Ayurveda. Combining the two, its affiliate organisation Arogya Bharati is conducting seminars and counselling sessions in different cities for Indian couples to get the baby they desire.

The two-day workshop and counselling “Garbha Sanskar” in Kolkata – for future parents to give birth to the “Best” Child, as announced and organised by Arogya Bharti, the health and family welfare wing of RSS in the South Kolkata office of the RSS. The announcement and advertisements (which clearly state that the organisation is part of the RSS) clearly described that the two-day workshop will be on reforms of child bearing and counselling of couples on “how to have a good child”. As D-day grew closer, the language of the ads changed to “best child” and examples of geniuses and celebrities symbolising this “best”-ness surfaced. Unsurprisingly, these were mostly men who had become the “best” through the traditional Indian practice of Ayurveda.

One of the ads in social media reads, “Weeds may grow in garden without attention, but to have a beautiful flower one needs proper planning and regular attention….The traditional Indian practice to have a good child is gradually becoming extinct and society is suffering from the subsequent poisonous result”. It was not clear what was meant by “weeds”.

  • Image credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP

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Land for harvesting votes

Ever since Modi became Prime Minister of India, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s business has expanded by manifold. Not only his spiritual Yoga business but also his “chemical free” consumer goods  business.

Baba who had claimed his “genuine” Ayurvedic medical products and yoga can cure AIDS and Homosexuality has now become the leading player in whole range of products for home use. It seems the tremendous support Modi got from Baba Ramdev for catching votes is being reciprocated by giving huge chunks of land at big discounts as per this Reuters report.

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Determined to lose heart and minds of Kashmiris

The ruling Hindutva party in India, the BJP, is it seems determined to antagonise the local population in Kashmir valley. They act as if they only consider the land of Kashmir as part of India , not the people living there.  This is reflected in the award given to an army officer who became infamous by using a civilian tied to a jeep as a human shield against stone pelting by Kashmiris.

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