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How 5 August redefined national politics in India — beyond Ram Mandir and Article 370

In episode 540 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta looks at the major political developments in the past few years and theorises a big change that has happened in Indian politics.

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New Delhi: The date 5 August is among the most important dates in Indian political history as it signifies a complete rewriting of national politics, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said in episode 540 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.

BJP fulfilled two of its main ideological agendas on this day — the revocation of Article 370 in 2019 and the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya this year.

Gupta puts the major developments that have happened in the past few years through “a political prism” to arrive at a bigger picture in the end.

Twenty eight years ago, when the Babri Masjid was demolished on 6 December 1992, a strong school said the mosque should be rebuilt and those who broke it should be punished.

However, today, even the Congress party is not opposing the construction of the Ram Temple. General secretary Priyanka Gandhi issued a statement, welcoming it wholeheartedly Tuesday.

She notably signed off with a ‘Jai Siya Ram’ — a less political slogan.

Other Congress leaders such as Manish Tewari and Hardik Patel also supported it.

Even ‘ultra-secularist’ Digvijaya Singh has not raised any opposition to the construction of the temple, except noting that the bhoomi pujan (ground-breaking) ceremony could have been done at a more auspicious time.

Other opposition parties including the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and Mamata Banerjee have also not opposed the temple. Most have welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court.

AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi is the only leader who has openly opposed the temple. The rest of the political cadre in the country has fallen in line, as if this is a national project and not just a sectarian project, said Gupta.

Similarly, in Kashmir, almost nobody in the Opposition, barring the local parties, said scrapping Article 370 was wrong.

These two issues have been considered as issues that have polarised national politics. And national politics cannot run without some kind of polarity, because without polarisation there is no politics.

It would lead to a party-less democracy and genuine democracies do not have party-less or ideology-less democracies.

Impact of Sabarimala judgment

Other changes have also taken place in recent times. The Sabarimala verdict by the Supreme Court — allowing menstruating women to worship at the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala — was a liberal verdict.

Even then, the Congress Party in Kerala was okay with the temple not being opened to women in menstruating ages.

Rahul Gandhi once made a liberal and secular statement saying this was wrong. But soon enough, he stepped back and said that was his “personal opinion”. Even the Left government in Kerala has not taken the risk of implementing the judgment.

Therefore, another issue that could have been a polarising secular community issue,  became an issue of near unanimity. Rahul also made an exaggerated show of being a devout Hindu with a ‘janeu’ (sacred thread of Brahmins) and temple visits.

Therefore, two of the BJP key ideological issues — scrapping of Article 370 and the Ram Temple — have been accepted by all major opposition parties and BJP rivals.

Shiv Sena, whose chief Uddhav Thackeray is avoiding the ceremony, opposed it for being held amid the pandemic, but has also said in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana that by Lord Ram’s grace, coronavirus will now be controlled.

Big political change in India

According to Gupta, this underlines a big political change in India. All different beams of light are passing through a political prism and becoming uniform.

Similarly, everybody will either get criminalised or will get secularised on other issues such as the Uniform Civil Code — another key ideological issue of the BJP.

Gupta explained the polarity in Indian politics up until now. He cited the example of former prime minister Indira Gandhi who believed her party was a combination of nationalism, socialism and secularism, without denouncing Hinduism.

Other Congress prime ministers P.V. Narsimha Rao and Rajiv Gandhi could not make many changes to this basic structure.

However, during Sonia Gandhi’s time, nationalism became weaker and leaned more towards the Left. Indira Gandhi’s ‘socialism’ strengthened under Sonia and became more ‘povertarian’ but also contradictory.

Secularism also got stronger in Sonia’s time through certain set of actions, including the removal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

In response, the BJP-RSS came up with a new political formulation — hard nationalism, unapologetic religiosity, and its own version of muddled socialism. Any political party that wants to fight this combination has to come up with a better alternative, Gupta said.

He concluded that the future will lie with a leader or with a group of leaders who are able to build a new politics with a new formulation to counter BJP’s formulation, which is led by an “almighty personality” called Narendra Modi.

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  1. Islamists have been running Rampant for Decades. No one could change that.
    Dont expect Hindu Nationalism to change now. Its just started.
    Jai Sri Ram

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