“Together we will build a strong and inclusive India,” tweeted the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, as he led the National Democratic Alliance to a historic victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Here, “inclusive” is the operative word. The false narrative manufactured by the opposition and a section of Left-leaning intelligentsia on systemic oppression of Dalits in the last five years has disastrously collapsed.
The prime minister comes from one of the socially backward communities in Gujarat. His second consecutive landslide triumph in Lok Sabha elections represents an assertion of the collective subaltern. In Modi, the backward and Dalits see one of their own. Sitting in New Delhi, his actions may look eccentric to some but they have found great resonance with the masses, if not the classes. When he calls himself a Chowkidar, the community of chowkidars, especially the ones whose traditional occupation is chowkidari, like Paswans, finds a strong reverberation.
When the prime minister invites a bunch of safai karamcharis to his residence and washes their feet, it strikes a chord with the Valmiki community. He connects with small and marginal traders with his words on chaiwala and pakodewala. Inclusive policy interventions like Stand-up India and MUDRA by the Modi government did make it to the bottom of the pyramid. The beneficiaries of these schemes are largely the socially and politically backward segments.
It is also the rise of Hindutva 2.0 that is culturally diverse and socially inclusive. The BJP with this victory has re-established the massive expansion of Hindutva base from the below. The coming together of OBC’s and Dalits in favour of the BJP will have long term implications. This is a significant take away from the state of Uttar Pradesh. The so-called mahagathbandhan in an attempt to save their turf have only marginally done well. The family-based regional parties’ enterprise that were thriving on social justice were not able to capture the subaltern mind.
This victory will realign the social alliances and see a new wave of optimism and integration. The fake fear created around reservations by the “threat to Constitution” brigade will hopefully take some lessons from the electoral outcome.
The author is a Fellow at India Foundation and Assistant Professor at Patna University. He is a member of the state executive committee, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Bihar. Views are personal.
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