“Hindutva or Cultural Nationalism presents the BJP’s conception of Indian nationhood” is the introduction to BJP’s philosophy vis-a-vis the Indian nation onBJP’s website. BJP further claims that Hindutva for them is a nationalist concept and not a religious one. However, one has to wonder, is it this same ‘nationalist-and-not-religious concept of Hindutva’ that led to the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 led by LK Advani, or the killings of Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat violence ably supported by Narendra Modi, or the killings of Christians in 2008 Orissa riots?
Fact is that Hindutva for BJP has never been a nationalist concept at all. They are wedded to the Hindutva propaganda purely for their electoral needs. In the 1984 Lok Sabha Elections. BJP could manage all but 2 seats. The Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 was the primary reason for the increase in BJP’s electoral fortune and in 1999 Lok Sabha Elections, they had the single largest majority with 183 seats. The fact that Hindutva propaganda is just a vote magnet for BJP was revealed by Arun Jaitley in a candid interview with US Charge D’ affaires Robert Blake. In a cable sent to Washington on May 6, 2005, Arun Jaitley’s view of BJP’s Hinduism card was as follows:
Pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley argued that Hindu nationalism “will always be a talking point” for the BJP. However, he characterized this as an opportunistic issue. In India’s northeast, for instance, Hindutva plays well because of public anxiety about illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh. With the recent improvement of Indo-Pak relations, he added, Hindu nationalism is now less resonant in New Delhi, but that could change with another cross-border terrorist attack, for instance on the Indian Parliament.
When Wikileaks exposed a bunch of diplomatic cables, this particular cable quoting Arun Jaitley’s admission had come into the public domain as well. While endorsing everything else that he said and was reported in the cable, Arun Jaitley selectively denied the bits about him characterizing Hinduism as an opportunistic issue for BJP. However, if one observes Modi’s election speeches across the country as part of BJP’s 2013-14 Election propaganda, the truthfulness of Arun Jaitley’s admission, about Hinduism being an opportunistic issue for BJP, is easy to be seen.
According to Jaitley’s 2005 admission, “Hindutva plays well in the North-East of India because of public anxiety about illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh”. Now let’s try and recall Modi’s speeches. Did Modi rake up the Hindutva issue in the North, for eg Lucknow rally, South, for eg Bangalore rally or in the West, for eg Mumbai rally? NO, he did not. Did Modi rake up the Hindutva issue in the North-East, for eg Assam? YES, he very much did..
On February 22, 2014, while speaking at a rally in Assam, Modi raised a battle cry against the Bangladeshi immigrants (he calls them infiltrators) in India. He tweeted twice on this issue soon after his rally:
While Modi has been soft pedaling on Hindutva for most of the Election season, he did not hesitate in raking up the issue up in Assam, because as Arun Jaitley confessed, it works well in the North East. As far as Jaitley’s second admission is concerned, about raking up the Hindutva card after a cross-border terrorist attack, for eg. the attack on Indian Parliament, Modi has a different strategy. To rake up the issue of terrorism, Modi doesn’t wait for the cross-border terrorist attacks to happen. Instead, he manufactures his own and the dead bodies of Sadik Jamal, Ishrat Jahaan, Javed Sheikh, Sohrabhuddin Sheikh and many more are a testimony to that fact.