The year ended by confirming the BJP’s upward mobility when the party put up its best ever show in Jammu and Kashmir. But there is a hint that the party’s ascent continuing since Lok Sabha elections may not continue to be as smooth and effortless in 2015 as it has been in 2014.
The BJP’s victory rath (chariot) came to a halt outside the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, showing that it is only the party’s vote bank of the Hindus of Jammu who supported it while the Muslims gave it a wide berth since the BJP could secure only 2.2 percent of the votes in the valley. The politics of Jammu and Kashmir is unlike rest of the country, it being the only Muslim majority state population wise.
The minorities clearly are still scared of the aggressive anti-Muslim and anti-Christian campaigns of the RSS and its affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal. There is not an iota of doubt that it is these groups which provided all the groundwork preparations in both the Lok Sabha as well as the Assembly elections.
It is important to note for Team Modi, however, that the same educated population which was wooed by promises of economic escalation will easily be the first to launch scathing attacks if Team Modi does not set things in order. The Love Jihads, Ghar waapsis, Bahu lao-beti bachaos and many such programs are enough reason for the minorities to again barricade themselves away from the BJP after warming up to it.
Although he has partially succeeded in taming the hardliners by persuading them to put off the issue of constructing the Ram temple by a year in keeping with his Independence Day call for a moratorium on sectarian animosity, he doesn’t seem to have reckoned with the penchant of the extremists to conceive of one divisive idea after another.
One can agree that the Mughals, forcibly converted people in the Mughal era and that as a result the fundamentalist Hindu groups detest it to date. Why would converting people, now from other religion brackets, back into Hindus not incite the same hate in other fundamentalist groups is the simplest question any leader needs to think over.
It is worth recalling that the BJP’s success in May was the culmination of a series of political victories which saw the party win assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and emerge as the first party in Delhi at the end of 2013.
PM Modi has all the requisites of a winner – charisma, oratorical skill, a forward-looking economic agenda and administrative acumen with a hands-on approach. But his Achilles heel is the RSS, VHP and other Hindu groups like the Dharma Jagran Samiti, which has been organising the proselytizing ‘ghar wapas’ (homecoming) campaigns to woo the minorities back into the Hindu fold.
Modi is not unaware of what’s hobbling him. But, in a way, he is helpless because having spent all his life in the RSS shakhas and among its karyakartas (workers) – Modi himself was once a pracharak.
It must be now very difficult for him to turn against them even if he knows that they are harming his development plans.
This is evident in the government-forming negotiations between the BJP and Muslim-majority parties of the Kashmir valley like the People’s Democratic Party and the National Conference, which the saffron hawks regard as pro-separatist and, therefore, anti-national.
Unless Modi can resolve these contradictions between a 21st century government and the Hindutva bodies by coming down heavily on the latter and resolutely pursuing economic reforms, the earlier optimism associated with him will disappear.
The gainer from any such inability will be the Congress and the other opposition parties whose stalling of parliament over the antics of the saffron activists has compelled Modi to take the ordinance route to pass crucial pro-reforms laws. But such bulldozing tactics are a sign of the prime minister’s, and the democratic system’s, failure.