August 08, 2020
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Neither Saffron Nor Sundered

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Neither Saffron Nor Sundered
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
IN the thicket of verities that bloom in media continually, at least two stalks of truth have been uprooted by the recent elections. For one, India is not turning irrevocably saffron. The platoon of shrill doomsayers, including this one, can now look for a new cause. Over the last few years, "secularists"— since that is a distinct category now—have been fearing that the subversive agenda of Hindutva had struck a chord with the suffering, sweating, toiling masses, and was set to be their opiate for some time to come. It was reckoned that the BJP, by bringing overt religion into politics, had trundled in an underhand delivery which may not have bowled out the other parties but was going to prove unhittable. In a word, good in law, terrible in spirit, and unplayable.

As it turns out it was a sloppy delivery that has gone for four byes. Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have returned a wonderful verdict. Not because it has brought in the Congress, which remains an essentially ragtag party riven with schemers and conspirators, with a gargantuan appetite for corruption. But because the BJP has been humbled in the very bastions of Hindutva; the site of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, the cradle of so many BJP leaders including the current party president, and the venue of our virile nuclear blast have all delivered a kick in the pants to those who would appropriate Hinduism for Hindus.

The second verity that's been shaken is that Indian politics was headed rapidly down the road to fragmentation. Analysts have been declaring that increasingly voters would cluster around small caste and community-based parties and formations; the large centrist parties would wither away, devolving power to regional satraps. Indian politics as we have known it, the grand play of overarching national parties, would slowly cease to exist. And this could mean all kinds of unspeakable things for the country, balkanisation et al. Well, going by these elections, it seems it's the face-off between the big two that is going to continue to determine Indian politics, and if anything many of those caste-community islands that were drifting off in different directions will be re-aligning themselves with the big boys.

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