Modi@2: Walking the Hindutva Tightrope

The RSS has been credited with Narendra Modi’s rise to power, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh. The Prime Minister began his political career as a RSS pracharakand his loyalties to the organisation are well-known. But now that he is running the country, it has been a tightrope walk for Narendra Modi, balancing between 7 Race Course Road and Nagpur.

Last year, a special report in The Economist examined the Prime Minister’s relationship with the Sangh Parivar and his silence on the notorieties of fringe groups exploiting the Hindutva ideology to their own ends.

The Quint revisits the report on his two-year anniversary at 7RCR.

From Godhra To Growth

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

The Economist analysed the Prime Minister’s struggle in shedding the baggage of 2002 Godhra riots while trying to push his growth agenda.

The big worry about Mr Modi is his history of allowing, and exploiting, disharmony. In Gujarat pogroms on his watch in 2002 killed over 1,000, two-thirds from the small Muslim population, as police stood by. After that Mr Modi campaigned for elections by stirring more hostility to Muslims, saying they had too many children. Gujarat has otherwise remained calm, but is more polarised than most of India.                                                                                                                                                                    -The Economist

Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi and More

PM Modi’s rise to power has emboldened many fringe groups. In fact regressive campaigns like Love Jihad and Ghar Wapsi have haunted the government. The PM’s silence may even have emboldened this fringe.

Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, says that anyone from Hindustan must admit to being Hindu and that Christians, including Mother Teresa, who worked with Kolkata’s poor, are aggressive missionaries. Hindu nationalists rant about “Love Jihad”, accusing Muslim men of seducing and converting Hindu women, but that is nothing new. A campaign called ghar wapsi(homecoming) aims to convert non-Hindus to their supposedly original Hindu identity. In April Hindu extremists in Maharashtra said non-Hindus should be sterilised or denied the vote.                                                                                                                                                                                                       -The Economist

Stoking the Hindutva Fire

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

The Economist argued that while the PM may have not said anything “offensive” himself, his silence has done little to rein in the rabble rousers.

Most of this is nasty talk, not taken seriously, but worryingly it is echoed by people in government. A junior minister in November told a rally in Delhi that non-Hindus were “bastards”. She kept her job. Smriti Irani, the education minister, said schools should stay open on Christmas Day. The home minister, Rajnath Singh, one of many (like Mr Modi) from the RSS, wants a nationwide ban on eating beef. The prime minister himself has said nothing offensive, but has conspicuously failed to speak out against his colleagues’ hate speech. That may be because he will want the RSS’s help again in future elections.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -The Economist

Religious violence and politics have a long history in our country, often stoked and abetted by netas themselves. But the onus is now on PM Modi to break-out of the mould and set the record straight. He may lose the support of a few, but will gain the trust of a billion Indians.
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