As popular protests against CAA/NRC continue to rage across university campuses and streetcorners, a consensus is gaining ground that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has veered away from the seemingly optimistic, future-oriented agenda of economic growth, and instead turned the clock back to aggressive Hindu majoritarian politics. And that, in doing so, he has diverted focus and energies away from the real issue facing India—the fragile state of the economy that can no longer be kept hidden. This view is shared by many Modi supporters and critics alike, albeit for very different reasons. Modi supporters on the centre-right lament that the increased focus on Hindu majoritarian politics—from Article 370 and Ayodhya to the relentless obsession with the taxonomy of citizens, doubtful citizens and infiltrators—risks derailing India’s march to the high table of global politics. In contrast, the critics view the aggressive turn to Hindutva itself as a diversionary tactic, a calculated move to cover up dismal growth numbers that continue to slide backward to the pre-reform years.
What is striking in these conversations is how Hindutva 2.0 is often explained away as something separate: a risk-laden instrument activated after Modi’s trumpcard—the promise of acche din (good days)—failed to materialise. The arrival of Hindutva on the centrestage, in this view, is a form of compensation for poor performance on the economic front. This diagnosis not only falls short, it also misreads the nature of kinship between Hindutva politics and the economic growth agenda.