With a second term in cabinet for Modi after the ‘2019 General Elections’, India has witnessed a sharp clandestine overturn of the liberal Indian Democracy into a chest-thumping nationalist and masochist nation state. There has been a severe crackdown on dissenting voices within or outside the camp but the Modimania for the country doesn’t appear to cease soon.
Modi led right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance index in the first term was marred by repeated failures to discharge their age-old promises on primary agenda items such as the controversial Article 370, which provided constitutional legitimacy to special provisions applicable in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the long running Ayodhya Dispute and the Uniform Civil Code.
From what it seems, the electoral setbacks of 2018 in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the rival faction of the Congress party who itself adopted a Soft-Hindutva policy, did coerce the political pundits at the helm of BJP to start treading, albeit silently on the path to fulfill the desires of their saffron vote-bank.
In-fact, the party came in the national limelight during the late 80s, riding upon the chariots of the Ram Temple Movement, which saw the party sweeping across 85 seats in the 1989 General Elections, a substantial improvement for the party from 1984, where they got two seats. The movement led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, setting off a long litigation in the Indian courts, and eventually consolidating the position of BJP as a formidable opposition to the then disjointed Congress Party.
Significant losses in the 2009 elections, saw the BJP heading into a slumber for effectuating rejig of the party’s campaign rhetoric. This shuffle at the back-end, catapulted Narendra Modi to national fame, who was then embroiled as being the chaperone of the sanguine Gujrat Riots of 2002.
BJP piggybacking on Modi came back to prominence in 2014, but left its core saffron vote base gaping as the political attitude quickly changed from solid Hindutva politics to that of a more run of the mill and dainty ‘development agenda’.
But 2019 till now has been a pale shadow of the Modi’s first term primarily due to the warning signs of an impending fiscal crisis, forcing Modi 2.0 to switch over to the BJP’s evergreen issues.
The second in command and the incumbent Home Minister has spearheaded the government’s image revamp campaign by decisively revoking the special status of the conflict ridden Jammu and Kashmir on August 5. A presidential order was instituted under Article 370 of the Constitution, effectively nullifying the 1954 Order granting special status J&K. This was soon followed by a Reorganization Act to transform the state into a centrally administered Union Territory. Several human rights organizations have since posed raging questions at the government for putting the state in a complete lockdown, and shutting down all forms political dissent through the house arrest of the local leaders.
After the political turmoil in Kashmir, the next pit-stop for the BJP was the long running Ayodhya land dispute. The dispute had always been a strategic election dole for the BJP party, but the growing discontent of the saffron vote base in Modi 2.0 disturbed BJP’s prospect to pacify the temple demands. The move ultimately paid dividends for the BJP as the litigation in the 100 years old land dispute between Hindus and Muslims over the ‘Ramjanmabhumi’ was conducted at Godspeed. All of this was done at the behest of the former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, who was uncharacteristically accused of being influenced by the ‘Executive’ during his controversial stay at the CJI position. The judgment was pronounced on 9th November 2019, in the favor of the Hindu side, resting all future disputes over the same. Modi and BJP has keenly followed the case throughout, both maintaining a neutral ground in the public over the communal nature of the issue. Though, instrumentally, BJP was using the fault lines between the two major religious communities of the country to revive the age old Hindutva pot belly, in order to subdue the media visibility of an economic slowdown. It has also been alleged that the Modi led government was docile in their approach to put to justice, the masterminds of the Babri Masjid demolishers, several of whom are party’s yesteryear leaders.
With two promises done and dusted, the Modi 2.0, would be next looking forward at the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, a blue print for constructively euthanizing the personal laws of the religions through the injection of constitutionally governed universal principles. Though UCC is expected to see a wide-spread protest and resistance from the minorities before its implementation, especially from the Muslim community.
Interestingly, at the frantic pace, the BJP juggernaut is moving ahead, it seems highly unlikely that the detractors would take a chance against the astute political crusade of the ruling dispensation. The emphasis on ‘correcting the wrongs of the history’ serves as a fodder for the BJP to maintain its relevance and in the near future, any opposition looks bleak.