Where the linear progression of Hindutva will take India? (Part-I)

DM Monitoring

A new idea of India is here for everyone to see. It isn’t a harmonious one but is triumphant at the moment.
At this moment, there are protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act throughout the country and 42 people have been killed in riots in the national capital. The last nine months – meaning, the period of time when the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi began – have seen Hindutva acquire a new sense of urgency. Even the fig leaf of development is a thing of the past. This, indeed, is Hindutva’s true and unalloyed form, something that was hidden beneath layers of political exigencies for close to a century.
The BJP has Modi at the helm, with a close second-in-command in Union home minister Amit Shah. And a third saffron face on the political firmament is Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath. While the Congress is grappling with a severe leadership crisis, the BJP has its line of succession ready.
However, there is a difference with the BJP of the past. If the previous national leadership of the BJP had former Hindutva strongman L.K. Advani complemented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – who was in many senses admired even by liberals – the present line of succession has nothing to do with moderation.
We have Hindutva charted in a linear progression. One look at the past of the BJP and its predecessor Jana Sangh makes the point clear. Let us make sense of the present by looking at the political history of Hindutva over the decades since independence.
The 1950s
In the first decade of Independence, the Jana Sangh the political affiliate of the RSS was born. And its successes were meagre despite Partition and its attendant anxieties. The Jana Sangh won just three seats in 1952 and four in 1957. Its pet issues were complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee died in a Kashmir jail after being arrested for crossing over without a permit with India, promotion of Hindi and opposing cow slaughter.
But success didn’t smile on the party. Jawaharlal Nehru took charge of the Congress and steered it towards a clearly secular policy, marginalising Hindu conservative leader P.D. Tandon in the process. And in the north Indian states – where the Jana Sangh fancied its chances – the Congress had champions of Hindi as its leaders. Congress governments in some states also banned cow slaughter, putting Article 48 of the constitution, a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, into operation.
The 1960s
Exasperated with its failures, the Jana Sangh embarked upon a two-pronged policy. It sought to make common cause with the socialists, the Swatantra Party, etc., on a plank of anti-Congress-ism. Four Lok Sabha by-elections in north Indian states in 1963 saw joint candidates being fielded, with some success. Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia was elected to the Lok Sabha in this election.
Parallel to this anti-Congress-ism, which entailed some compromise on core Hindutva, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an RSS-affiliate founded in 1964, launched a movement asking for a constitutional amendment to enable the Centre to ban cow slaughter in all states.
The 1966 agitation turned violent and some people were killed. The 1967 Lok Sabha and assembly polls – the last time the two were held together – saw seat adjustments among opposition parties in many states and the Congress suffered reverses. The Jana Sangh became part of short-lasting Sanyukta Vidhayak Dal governments, formed as legislative arrangements, in some provinces. The party did reasonably well in Uttar Pradesh, where the cow protection movement also helped it.