With the term of the present government expiring in May 2009 the BJP now seems to be in the election mode. Not only is Lal Krishna Advani now its prime ministerial candidate, it has made a significant shift from Hindutva to Moditva. Moditva is nothing but Modi-fied Hindutva. Unlike the Hindutva of Advani-led Ram Janambhoomi movement, Moditva is a slightly different phenomenon and needs to be understood and watched carefully.
The term Hindutva was coined when the BJP was in the opposition; Moditva took shape when the party was in power, both at the Centre and in many states, in particular Gujarat. During Hindutva years the main objective was to acquire power through means, fair and foul – communal riots being the best weapon. The whole society was communalised to create problem for the ruling party, mostly Congress, which lacked courage and will to take this phenomenon head on.
Moditva is the art of perpetrating naked communalism while still in power and then justifying the whole exercise. It is the practice of mastering the art of carrying out anti-Muslim pogrom with the help of state machinery and then invoking the slogan of Raj Dharam. Moditva teaches its cadre how to massacre people while in power and then indulge in the arm-twisting of independent pillars of the democracy: Judiciary and Press.
Hindutva concentrated its efforts on the lumpen elements, though in the process urban educated gentries did swell its rank. Moditva seeks to allure the so-called ‘modern’ minded corporate bosses, NRIs and upper middle class as well to its camp. Gujarat, the State where about 600 people committed suicide in the last one year, is projected as an example just because it attracted a few thousand dollars from abroad – though there is no denying the fact that this western state with highest coastal area in the country has been attracting investors for the last over 125 years.
In the beginning Hindutva was considered a political pariah. Till 1996 only Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Janata Dal (United) were with the BJP, when it formed a government for 13 days. Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have always been known for communal politics, but the Janata Dal (United) was the first secular party to embrace the BJP, especially after the demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992 and subsequent killing of thousands of Muslims. However, by 1998 the National Democratic Alliance, with two dozen secular regional parties, was formed.
Today Moditva is facing almost the same type of problem, which Hindutva faced till 1996. Parties like Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference realised that Hindutva was transformed into Moditva only when the NDA lost power in 2004. The compulsion of power did not allow them to desert the NDA during the Gujarat riots months, that is, at the time of the birth of Moditva.
Today the so-called secular Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal – the earliest fellow-travellers – are still solidly behind the BJP. And the problem with the Telugu Desam, Trinamool Congress and National Conference is that they have no alternative political space available for them in their own home turf. It is difficult for them to go with the Congress, especially Chandrababu as it is the main ruling party in Andhra Pradesh. Going with Congress would amount to the end of the opposition party in that state. Therefore, these leaders are looking towards a Third Front with Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and ever unpredictable Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK.
The idea of Third Front never lasted long in India and the magnetic attraction of power may once again force many of the Third Front constituents to rethink. They may re-join Advani-led Moditva camp if it performs even slightly better in 2009 parliamentary election.
Today the rump NDA may be down in the dump, but there are some rays of hope for it. Incumbency factors in some States may go in its favour but in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, etc. it may be the sufferer. True, the NDA may never get the support of Left Parties, which may go with the Third Front, or may, one way or the other, be forced to once again back the UPA with certain conditions.
But NDA can bank on Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs, and Bihar, which elects 40. Mayawati is known for switching sides. She will have no problem in going with the Brahmin-dominated BJP – albeit with certain conditions – if the NDA performs slightly better in 2009 election. After all there is Dalit-Brahmin alliance in UP.
In Bihar the scenario is more interesting. Though in 26 months the Nitish Kumar government has failed on all fronts and the law and order situation has deteriorated further the one thing which is in its favour is the likelihood of Muslims getting trapped in the RSS agenda. What the Nitish government has done with perfection is that in the name of wooing the Muslims it has divided them. Besides, it has left no stone unturned to drive a wedge in the Muslim-Yadav combination. Though in the recently held bye-election for Bikramganj Lok Sabha seat the ruling Janata Dal (U), which enjoyed the support of the BJP, managed to retain the seat – with much reduced – just 30,000 votes, the manner in which all the efforts have been put to divide the Muslims is causing concern. While the Nitish Kumar establishment wants the Muslims to forget Gujarat, where 6,000 families are still in refugee camps, it is raking up the ghost of Bhagalpur and projecting it as Muslim-Yadav riots and not as Muslim-Hindu riots. The truth is that if we go on defining the communal riots in such a way then it needs to be mentioned that in the 1989 communal riots of Bhagalpur some of the heinous crimes were committed in villages of Kahalgaon assembly segments, which has the overwhelming Kurmi population and is known as second Kurmistan after Nalanda. Nitish Kumar himself belongs to this caste.
In 2004 parliamentary election the NDA won only six out of 40 seats in Bihar. If the NDA succeeds in its effort to split the MY combination the equation may turn completely in its favour.
As much depends on Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the buoyed-up BJP – after its recent success in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh – has decided not to change any of its chief ministers in the States ruled by it. It will go all out in sewing up new alliance. Only time will tell if it succeeds or not.