May 28, 2023

Toxic Identity Politics of RSS-BJP is Now in the Open

Nilotpal Basu

THE fact that the new parliament building is being inaugurated by Narendra Modi and not by the president – Draupadi Murmu has created a sense of outrage in the public mind. In a throwback to the run up of the presidential election, most of the corporate media (a euphemism for Godi Media) had gone nuts over the master stroke on display! The fielding of a tribal and on top of that, a woman was shown to be an exceptional move to outsmart the opposition. The propaganda blitzkrieg went on to speculate the unprecedented support that Murmu’s candidature would attract and the disastrous outcome that the opposition candidate would suffer. However, the result showed that the actual outcome was nothing close to the projection. In fact, the opposition candidate received more votes than any other in recent times in this climate of absolute electoral hegemony of the BJP.

However, the point is not to get bogged   down on  the  role of Godi Media; juxtaposed with the present decision that the president will not be invited,  not to speak of inaugurating the new parliament building which Modi sees more as a trophy than the citadel of Indian parliamentary democracy.

In the noisy debate on the current move, it is also revealed that the then incumbent president Ram Nath Govind had not been invited for the foundation stone laying ceremony when this was happening. Therefore, the contention here is to underline the deeply engrained toxicity in the brand of identity politics that RSS has indulged in and try and locate the source of this.

It is to be understood that this development is in line with one of the defining features of RSS-BJP led Modi government of brazenly subverting constitutional bodies. The constitution specifically enshrines the fact that the office of the president heads all three organs of the Indian State. The absolutism of the fascist trend has not even spared that exalted office!


Very recently Modi’s man for all seasons, Amit Shah has made it known that the prime minister’s backward social status will be a plank for the ruling parties’ electoral campaign for 2024. It is another matter that these are the very same  political forces who opposed the Mandal Commission recommendations and their implementation on the basic ground that the reservations based on caste-based discrimination and inequality are not acceptable. In fact, this has been the longstanding understanding of the Hindutva and RSS. One may pertinently recall the Organizer editorial which frontally attacked the constitution and pitched for the role of Manu Samhita! It explicitly criticised the document which aimed to consolidate the collective experience of our anti-imperialist freedom struggle and unambiguously pitched for the Hindutva vision and the laws of Manu.

It is for this basic reason that the present government is refusing to accept the caste census which is being demanded by all those who assert the need for more meaningful social justice in the Indian society. The forces of Hindutva spearheaded by RSS do not want to give credence to addressing the imperative of moving towards social equality and build a more inclusive society with social justice. The fact that extreme economic and social inequality affects our present reality does not persuade them to move away from their basic ideological persuasion.

The question of recognising the rich diversity and multiplicity of identities through a common and equal citizenship – the bedrock of our constitution is something which they are not prepared to reconcile with.

Come election time, the dabbling with the question of identity and working out permutation of various identities is not about forging a unity for ensuring social justice; but hardcore identity politics to polarise for capturing power. The intellectual pen pushers and the mainstream corporate media analysts work relentlessly to market this brand of identity politics as electoral masterstroke and ‘social engineering’!


Refusal to allow Draupadi Murmu to inaugurate the new parliament building or initiate a caste census deeply smacks of the ideological vision of Hindutva. It will not be out of point to remind that the pioneer of Hindutva ideology, Savarkar claimed that Hindutva does not have anything to do with the Hindu religion and claimed that this was a pure political project of capturing power. However, a deeper reading of his theoretical posturing actually reveals that his poser of Hindutva as cultural nationalism is to add legitimacy to the religious identity based nationalism; a backdoor advocacy for smuggling in Brahminism and the Varnashram! Savarkar strongly argued for cultural nationalism as a euphemism for Brahminical values as the foundation of national culture. Golwalkar also pursued along more or less similar lines and rejected the idea of nationalism as a political construct. Therefore, it is not surprising that RSS meticulously stayed away from the freedom struggle and concentrated on uniting and militarising the Hindus.

Now that the direct outcome of the Hindutva politics has given a manifold impetus to majoritarianism, revivalism and obscurantism leading to attack on our scientific temper and rich composite history, it is being noticed worldwide. Particularly the scale of violence against religious and ethnic minorities (as in Manipur), the full range of its toxic impact is on display. This is actually aggravating the adverse perception about India and its democracy under the present regime. In order to respond to this disturbing image, Modi had to claim on his last independence day speech at Red Fort that India has been the ‘mother of democracy’ uninterruptedly for the last 5000 years!

However, the sham was exposed when the UGC chairman used the doctored research by Hindutva acolytes in ICHR. In arguing that India has been home to the superior democracy for the last 5000 years, he implicitly argued that the social hierarchy perpetuated by Varnashram was inherently democratic, free of discrimination, persecution and violence. Nothing could be further from the truth! However, it is the essence of such ingrained ideological orientation that denies Draupadi Murmu or a Ram Nath Govind their due constitutional assignment for the new parliament building.

It is obvious that such an approach completely subverts our constitutional and foundational principles. It is clear that marketing identities of Murmu, Kovind or even the so-called backwardness of Modi’s social background, is to win elections while impeding real empowerment and  social cohesion altogether.

Therefore, what we are witnessing in contemporary India flaunted as ‘new India’ is a refashioning of the Indian citizen towards the overarching Hindutva identity; this is far beyond mere communal polarisation which has come to be more widely recognised.


In the recent past, particularly after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a question has been bothering and perhaps perplexing wide sections of our people that how Modi -Amit Shah -RSS election juggernaut is managing to win elections, despite the deeply distressing state of our economy, particularly characterised by massive inflation and unemployment which is threatening livelihood of crores of people. With the stranglehold over mainstream media, the narrative which is being sought to be reinforced that whatever happens to the people particularly the poor and the downtrodden, those who are at the receiving end of the social and economic inequality, the BJP (despite its pronounced bias towards the corporates) will manage to win elections.

But now especially after the Karnataka elections, studies have started bringing out that the social identity and Hindutva driven overarching perceptions are appearing to come unstuck. Otherwise how can one explain that with the tinkering with reservations for excluding Muslims from reservations (based on backwardness) or further fragmentation of different social and caste groups to isolate the opposition (as they have done quite often in Bihar and UP), there is a clear and discernible trend that those who are lower down in the social and economic ladder have voted that much more heavily against the BJP.

Now is the time of regrouping and reworking the way to take on the corporate communal nexus of the BJP-RSS led Modi government. Not just the crisis of livelihood but actually that of survival should be the starting point for the battle for the heart and minds of the people in the 2024 elections. Based on gaining the confidence of the people on this basis, the identity question and the toxic brand of identity politics that is being pursued by BJP-RSS can be defeated.