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Hindutva pill for post-Covid India: Why Modi-Shah will return to what they know best

When all else fails — economy to health to welfare — what is a bigger cushion for the BJP than its brazen Hindutva face?

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Once the coronavirus crisis recedes and a semblance of ‘normality’ returns, expect the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah-led Bharatiya Janata Party to come out of the political lockdown full guns blazing with its aggressive Hindutva agenda — a convenient and time-tested way for it to hijack all publicity and distract from the government’s failings.

This has been a turbulent phase for the Modi-Shah dispensation, with a significant amount of poor PR — from an economy in free fall to the horrific images of lakhs of workers walking back home in the scorching heat and some being left to die in trains and railway platforms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are crafty enough to know these can haunt them in the near future, and that they quickly need to get off the back foot and operate in their comfort zone.

And for the BJP, what is a bigger cushion than its brazen, Hindutva face — a factor primarily responsible for its steep rise in national politics since the early 1990s.

So, expect a heavier-than-ever dose of ‘we are a nation of and for Hindus’ — from loud noises about building a ‘bhavya, gaganchumbi Ram Mandir‘ to an even more shrill note on the Citizenship Act, a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Uniform Civil Code and more, with a generous sprinkling of phrases like ‘ghuspaithiye (infiltrators)’, and ‘kapdon se hi pehchane jate hain‘ (‘they’ can be recognised by their clothes)’ thrown in.

Also read: The surveys can’t be true: Modi’s popularity has taken a beating with migrant crisis

A dismal PR phase

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah know they need to get out of this mess astutely and get out soon. No government, and especially one that has prided itself on a pro-welfare and pro-poor approach, can afford to look like it has let the most vulnerable sections suffer, in this case, the working class. Equally importantly, no government, and certainly not one that has constantly harped on vikas, can be comfortable presiding over an era of job losses, abysmal economic performance and falling GDP growth figures.

For all their ‘in-control’ image projection as politicians, Modi and Shah now seem to be fumbling in the face of this unprecedented crisis and its subsequent challenges — from economy to agriculture to health. This is even more glaring because ever since Narendra Modi came to power in 2019 with an even bigger mandate, he has seemed completely confident. His government has managed to pull off a slew of tough policy decisions — from scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir to bringing in legislation on triple talaq and citizenship rules. All politically contentious, socially delicate measures, which Modi-Shah brazenly bulldozed their way through.

In fact, the frenzy the BJP tried to create through these polarising steps did help overshadow the discourse around a slowing economy and its poor performance even before the Covid crisis. But with the virus further hurting an already battered economy, and throwing up embarrassing situations like the poor looking hapless, state governments revolting and decisions like re-opening of railways and airlines causing massive confusion, the Modi-Shah duo knows their PR game is in danger of slowly unravelling.

Also read: Why liberals love to fantasise about a Narendra Modi-Amit Shah split. Five reasons

The great escape

Modi knows he still remains an extremely popular leader and no national politician quite matches up to him. But he also knows bad publicity for his government can hardly be good for him, and a distraction is what will be needed as soon as the virus seems less threatening.

And Hindutva will come to the rescue, yet again. From the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of the early 1990s to the divisive Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, the hardcore, majoritarian and religion-heavy version of politics has been at the BJP’s core.

It isn’t always necessarily a blatant form of Hindu-versus-Muslim narrative that the BJP spews. Sometimes, it is a more subtle form of the ‘other’—the Muslim ‘infiltrator’ or Muslim-dominated enemy Pakistan. Either way, a push for Hindutva and a demonisation of minorities is the crux.

Also read: How is Modi’s BJP different from the one founded by Advani-Vajpayee 40 years ago?

Make no mistake, the BJP voter looks for this, votes for this and wants this to remain at the core. To divert attention from any uncomfortable issue, all the BJP needs to do is remind them of this core.

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are likely to follow just that modus-operandi — raising the pitch on Ayodhya, a nationwide NRC to identify the ‘outsider’, replacing personal laws across religions with one umbrella set.

Distract from the virus that exposed even the vulnerabilities of mighty Modi, take away attention from the economy and hide all failures. Worried about job losses, slowing industries, bad business and a sea of workers whose plight exposed the underbelly of the Indian state’s ineptness? Here, take a Hindutva pill instead. France’s Marie-Antoinette once said, ‘let them eat cake’ instead of bread. In Modi-Shah’s India, the cake could well be the much-needed tool to stop people from talking about there being no bread.

Views are personal.

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  1. Very Sad to know that even new generation journalist are falling the trap of glorified secularism. I would like to ask you mam on what basis 3ple Talaq, 370, fall in polarization category. About CAA if neighboring muslim nations will not trouble non believers according to them there will be no migrants. Ram Mandir was decision of Supreme Court which should be respected.

    one advice it is not at all right to support such minorities who when attain majority in small demography dictate their Sharia law and then so called constitution takes a toss. We Hindus have history of living with other religions at least for 800 years show me one place in this world who inspite of blood history living with other religions and giving the equal rights.

    Get Well Soon.

  2. Yeah.. the easily predictable will happen. And that’s why Modi, like Trump, will never be known as a statesman.

    That’s also why history will be kind to Manmohan Singh, and unkind to Narendra Modi!

  3. Miss. Ruhi Tewari admire your courage and hope you will keep writing fearlessly. Please take care and stay safe.

  4. Hindutva pill is anti-dose for those who have taken overdose of Secular pill. ThePrint journos also need a strong dose of Hindutva pill as they have gone into unstable state of mind after taking the overdose of Secular pill. However Librandus need a mind operation by a Hindutva doctor to alter the genetic structure of their mind as they had been exposed to Secular virus from school days.

  5. Yes, we are a Hindu nation, that is accepting of all other faiths – and we are proud of it.
    Why does that upset The Print?

  6. You make him sound invisible. Dont worry. When the fire is raged it will know no indian differently. It will consume even his supporters that will be red faced when they are unable to bear the scalding heat and cannot scream at him. Soon the plague of poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities will show them their real faces.

  7. Are you saying that BJP did anything different in last six years. All they did was event management, PR, divisive politics, cow politics,, blaming opposition etc. Did they pay required attention to health care, education, economy, bank NPR, NBFC crisis. You are correct now they don’t have anything to talk about hope of acche din. THIS IS WhatsApp GOVT and that also has has WhatsApp solicitor general trying to create WhatssApp Courts. Right?

    • The most astonishing thing that BJP government has not yet done is putting the Congress’s Gandhi family behind bars.

  8. Modi’s Economic record is very ordinary compared to his predecessor, that is a fact. But what problem does the author have if they talk about Ram Temple and NRC? Is it wrong to identify and send illegal immigrants back? You can criticise the government on economic front, that’s not an issue, even I do, but what’s your problem with Ram Temple, NRC?

  9. Modi’s Economic record is very ordinary compared to his predecessor, that is a fact. But what problem does the author have if they talk about Ram Temple and NRC? Is it wrong to identify and send illegal immigrants back? You can criticise the government on economic front, that’s not an issue, even I do, but what’s your problem with Ram Temple, NRC?

    • You dont know what nrc will do. There are 13% muslims in india and over 70% Hindus. Obviously more Hindus will not have papers and documentation of their birth in this country. Case in point, Assam hindus. They will surely be given citizenship but after they have declared on an affidavit that they are seeking asylum in india, even though they were born here. So a Hindu who was born here will have to live like a refugee – given citizenship. Don’t think your hands will not burn. You’ll are born and raised in casteism and it will be a curse on your kind. This is not a plan for a hindu rashtra. This is a plan for a brahmin rashtra. And the low cast hindus will be made to suffer as they are suffering by your hands during covid. We know your true face.

      • Shut up, Sameer. There is a Muslim population explosion going on in India currently. Actually, Muslims are 15% of the population. Muslims make up 18.5% of childbirths.
        There is a MUSLIM POPULATION BOMB.
        If the Muslim TFR continues to be 30% higher than Hindu fertility rate, the Muslim population will quickly overtake the Hindu population in the next 100 years.
        Shut up about your crap about a “Brahmin Rashtra.”
        You Muslims should stop BREEDING LIKE PARASITES if you want to live in India.

      • Listen idiot keep your Hindu’s problems in your brain don’t emit hate… There are more problems in Muslims then Hindus regarding discrimination..we don’t want Hindu nation but want a country of peace..
        And dear the Print stop doing dirty politics..

  10. Author s assertation that Hindutva will come to rescue of Modi and Shah is nothing but symptom of Anti -modi paranoia. It is other way round. It is not Modi and Shah needs to get protection with Hindutava. It is India and Hindu religion and civilization that that needs to be protected. If Hindutava is ever defeated, than ALL Ruhi s and Rekha s of India will be forced donne “BURQUA “OR BURKA . Fear for that day.

    • Why your ghunghat, sati, dowry and child marriage are not enough to destroy this nation. Hinduism is the most casteist religion on this planet. Your agenda is to make the brahmins rule over the lower cast hindus.

  11. Unfortunately in a country like ours where critical thinking is a hobby rather than a part of life, religion centric mafias will continue to make hay. Modi knows there is no other rogue than himself to compete with him in politics. The youngsters must chip in and hit the streets like in the US now for Floyd.

    • you want rioters in our country once again wow…we dont need ppl like u in our country to de stabilise us if u dont like move out of here…now dont say who am i to say u that … iam the citizen who dont want a destabilised country and i dont care for ppl and religion that will choose there religion over the
      country when time comes and uses constitution according to there own benefits …have special religious laws for themselves unlike usa…i dont either want any rice bag too in my country who can sell the country for a rice bag like they did their identity..india is hindu and its spirit is hindu…. abrahamic cultures are propagandist and invaders forcing themselvves over the world with no history and culture or values …we dont want yet more kashmirs in our country bringing us to the condition of 1947 and that is the reason we hate conversion specialist ….. STOP YOUR MISSIONARIES AND MAULANAS

  12. This article is pure rumour mongering and speculative and therefore unnecessary.

  13. Tum nahin sudharogi.
    Modi-Shah jodi ne tumhara, personally, kuchh bigada hai kya?
    As far as economy is concerned, in present day world, in the covid crisis, US-China cold war, what ever India is doing is wonderful. Best economies are doing worst than Indian economy. Bring out that fact and do not do one sided reporting.
    Do not make bad habits of falsifying facts your armor.

    • Modi haters can’t change even if there is a need for change as the genetic makeup of their mind has altered due to heavy exposure to SECULAR virus that love to hide under Burkha.

  14. The article begins with a premise, “ Once the coronavirus crisis recedes and semblance of ‘normality’ returns”. When this is bound to happen? What about the economic crisis that is looming large on the horizon? The author fallaciously assumes that ‘normality’ is bound to return soon and thereafter future would be replica of the past. I am not so sure about it. Perhaps economic considerations would weigh higher than Hindutva nationalism. The immediate test will be the impending Bihar elections. Many migrant workers have come back with a bitter experience of their lifetime. Will they forget their marathon journey to Bihar so easily? Remember these are voters of Bihar and not of Mumbai. What message they will spread in their homeland? Let us see.

  15. The writer of the article resembles a poor batsman swinging his bat at every ball . You started with economy, migrant, hindtva and ofcourse modi bashing and more. None really helps . In my language they say a dog can only bark at the hot sun during summery.
    Coming to your criticism on economy are you trying to say the earlier govt did a fabulous job? The economy in 2014 was in shambles , policy paralysis , endless scams and many sickening events were the hallmark of that govt.
    Coming to things like 370, the stupid mistake done by our former political masters has been corrected. What a colossal waste of national resources in J&K just to defend a foolish set of highly partisan laws. Such kind of hypocrisy cant happen in any other country.
    Passing a bill in parliament is not bulldozing. So refrain from using such words. Its not an acceptable jargon in journalism in this context.
    Coming to religion , are you saying Ram temple and protection to hindus, i have a simple question. It is proven archaeologically that ram temple existed in that place . So fully knowing that you want us to keep quiet and do nothing about it?

    We hindus are responsible for the present mess we are in. Our own shameless forefathers converted to a desert religion and that is hurting our nation today. No other religion in the world has so many converts Absolutely pathetic.
    If someone is trying to shore up and support Hinduism you cannot stand it and want to immediately pull the party down.

  16. The Print is a foreign funded media working against the national interest of India. Fake.!!

  17. In BC era (before corona era), BJP Identified anti national forces by their dress (kapdon say), in AC (After corona) era they would recognise them through Sneeze🤧, after all we were told that a special 🤧class was conducted by TJ to spread corona.

  18. It’s more like reading some opposition rant rather than a balanced opinion based on ground realities and understanding of present scenario in popular culture.
    Sorry to see such biased and almost fantasy driven analysis from a supposedly ‘neutral’ person.
    Logical fallacies? Well least said the better.

  19. The sooner the better.
    We will overcome the current pandemic and the economy will try to come back to normal.
    But I as an ordinary citizen is scared of the mechanisation of the communist, the Lutyens, the biased media and the pseudo secularists, who will create issues for which I am least connected and make my life difficult.
    I feel I am unwanted in this country though I belong to the majority community and I want a change.

  20. at the outset I just cant understand how you can be so anti Hindu. This government is elected twice in this country with Hindu and may other religion people voting for them. we as Hindus are a majority in this country does not mean that we need to forgo that right to all other minorities especially Muslims as you have advocated for them. We have every right to have a Ram mandir, and that has been vested on us by the Supreme Court of this country and is not a gift to Hindus from any Government- ruling, ruled or aspiring to rule this country. your statement ‘expect a heavier-than-ever dose of ‘we are a nation of and for Hindus’ — from loud noises about building a ‘bhavya, gaganchumbi Ram Mandir‘ ‘ is an absolute insult of the Hindus and the country to which they belong. you have no right to insult the issue of Ram Mandir or our sentiments attached to it. you are willfully trying to create an issue of anti Hindu propaganda and trying to lay foundations for unrest in this country. you have exhibited absolute carelessness towards the majority in this country.
    I feel sorry that you guys get away with all this in this country. please take up a cause for all the minorities in neighbouring countries and PRINT them if you have guts. don’t spread filth, dare to talk of facts irrespective of the religion. just for your info normal Hindus and Muslims in this country lead a happy life together. its you such instigators who try to disrupt the peace and support such doers. Hindutva is based on values and humanity, do not try to be demon against it.

  21. Ruhi has huge bias against Modi. This is clearly reflected here. She cal call me bhakt or a troll (a convenient way to shun criticism). I am also getting bored at her shows as they are not unbiased any more. This is something Print and Shekhar have to evaluate, a brand like Print does not need such type of journalism.

  22. Negativity as usual without any substantial base and facts. Welfare is been done on ground so your editor in chief Mr coupta chose to ignore it last year in the lok sabha elections due to his political compulsions. Economy is not only affected here the world economy is going through this cyclic change added to the woes of the SARS n-CoV-2019 pandemic. The last quarter where most of the major economies contracted India’s grew by 3.1 percent. Health care has been taken care by the Ayushmann Bharat scheme covering 50 crore Indians. The last 5 years have seen the most medical Colleges and hospitals come up than the entire family rule of Congress since independence. Next time talk sense and stop shitting from your mouth. Shit from the appropriate place.

  23. So the Punch and Judy show is set to continue. Hardly surprising since the BJP seems to be one trick pony.

    The BJP has created an alternate universe. In a way living in that universe gives the public a high. What else is there to look forward to? Bitter, brutal reality with not much hope, not to mention the dark times we are living through.

  24. Health is a state subject, mind you. You haven’t written anything about Maharashtra’s inept handling of the pandemic. And you are writing a presumptive piece. This is not journalism, but prestitution

  25. Why such a totally out of context, viscerally anti Modi article at this time from The Print? Its nonsensical level beats even Shivam Vij standards. Triple Talaq, Art 370, CAA and Ram Mandir are done. NPR will come up soon. NRC, UCC and removal of the word ”secular” from the Preamble to the Constitution will happen soon. This is part of BJP’s political agenda and Modi is in power based on this mandate. Let this be clearly understood by all left liberal sickular gang all over the world. And let us not mix performance of economy with this political agenda.

    Ultimately, instead of indulging in empty chest beating, it would be better for this gang to go out and work for the opposition so that Modi can be defeated. Try it!

  26. Ruhi you must be like your leader Shekar who gets paid by Congress party to spread mis-information.BJP will win 3rd time round because people have seen enough on Congress looting our treasury evertime they get elected.Also because of leadership dynasty noone can be leader.

  27. The last year has seen protests over CAA, the allegations of economy being mishandled and supposedly a huge jobless situation, and above all the coved-19, only thing that was not seen was the big time money making.
    Why nobody want to even mention that the governeance has been much cleaner at the top than what we have ever seen, even NDA one had its share of allegations.
    When talk of the cleaner administration it can only be perseptionally , execption that proves the rule is the Fodder scam which did see the final outcome.
    Baises are part of the human nature, culture and education give the ability to rationalise the baises and an honesty to call GOOD what is good.

    • Buddy!
      6000 covid deaths, 2 lakh+ cases
      14 crore Job losses
      400+ migrant labour deaths
      300+ mob-lynchings
      143rd rank in freedom of press
      Failed demonetization
      Selling of PSUs
      Growing hatred in society
      Agrarian crisis
      Decreasing credibility of courts
      Failing legislature
      Are these a part of fake narrative?

      • “143rd rank in freedom of press”…so the data what you mention is everything Fake. You pseudoseculars, Modi-haters, tukde gang, pseudo-liberal, compunists, fake gandhi clans,…you are all living in a virtual country named Fakisthan….so everything for you is fake….

  28. It is surprising that how congrass journalists are worried about HINDUS getting together. But when proselytizing religions come together for fake protest these congrass journalists become loudspeakers for such protest. Shame on you for spreading congrass viewpoints by posing as a journalist

  29. We don’t really know what Modi-Shah will or will not do. But we know that in an already under-performing economic climate, coronavirus related lockdown seem to have dealt a body-blow. Macroeconomic domino effect pain is likely to leave no sector unscathed. Loss of livelihood means reduced purchasing power. When people buy less, it in turn reduces incentive to manufacture goods which leads to more lay-offs and increase in economic pain. There are 3 possible routes that the govt may take:
    1. Pay full attention to setting the economy right and put all other divisive agenda on the back-burner. (This was Vajpayee’s strategy. Modi sarkar hasn’t played by this book so far)
    2. Bring divisive agenda to the forefront to distract people from economic woes. (Strategy followed so far in Modi sarkar 2)
    3. Mix of strategy 1 & 2 ( Followed by Modi sarkar in its first term. They needed Balakot to rescue them and propel them when elections came. It may not pay such high dividends if repeated before every election.)

    Perhaps they may try with 3 to begin with and fall back on 2 if things get too bad. Somehow it doesn’t seem possible that Modi-Shah can make strategy 1 work because it needs ability to accommodate and compromise which has never been on display from this duopoly. But the real fear is – utter devastation on the economic front and banks starting to re-posses businesses, cars and homes. This will cause such revulsion and resentment amongst the middle-class that the whole edifice of Hindutva then is in danger of crumbling due to loss of legitimacy.

  30. It seems there is a competition between Shivam Vij and Ruhi Tiwari with SG as the umpire, of spewing hatred against the BJP. So their imaginations are to be accepted as facts. When their own party congress is going down a few notches everyday, when their leader, (err is he a leader), shows to the world that he is not fit for the role his party and its ecosystem is propping up, when he washes his hands of Maharashtra fiasco in dealing with Corona, when the states ruled by congress party are hopelessly at sea in dealing with corona as well as administering the state, trust these media cheerleaders of congress to put a curtain over this ineptness by raking up an imagined Modi Shah programme. It can provide a false sense of security and perhaps hope for the congress supporters on the ground. ( Are there any?) We might see an Nth launch of Rahul Gandhi to fail yet again. What these mediamen fail to realise is that Modi is seen to be someone completely immersed in his job with all honesty and dedication. Whether he passes or fails only time will tell. But the prince for whom the media is batting so aggressively everyday is often seen as a disinterested, lazy, non serious, bereft of intellect and credibility. He has no concrete ideas for the nation. And people of this country know that very well. So auch meaningless imagined scaremongering will not work.

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