Politics and religion are intertwined. It is more so in developing countries as politics there is largely identity-centric. Recent developments in India marked by the rise of the Hindu nationalistic Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) underscores the point.
The first edition of the present work was published in 1999 (reprinted 2000) when the Vajpayee-led NDA government had just taken over. At the core of our enquiry then were: to gauge the limits of religious politics in India, to make a distinction between BJP and the ‘value-based’ political parties, to understand what ‘genuine secularism’ really meant, to what extent Hindutva could be interpreted as political Hinduism, and, were the Muslims in India really pampered as the BJP claimed.
These questions are no less relevant now. Still the urgency for this second edition arose when the Modi wave swept the polls in 2014 and electrified an over-confident Hindutva brigade. Now that the Modi government is almost midway through its five-year tenure the volume is timely. Without rewriting the original text a new chapter has been added to make sense of the major developments during 1999-2014. Does the Modi phenomenon mark a tectonic shift in Indian politics? Would Modi continue with his victory procession beyond the next general election of 2019?
Partha S. Ghosh, formerly Professor of South Asian Studies at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, is currently an ICSSR National Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. His latest book is: Migrants, Refugees and the Stateless in South Asia (2016).
The second edition of this book has been long overdue. The urgency arose when the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi swept the polls in 2014. Still it took some time for the import of the event to sink in our national consciousness. Now the present government is two years in power, the project cannot be postponed any longer. My readers are, however, cautioned against expecting an altogether re-written book, which this is not. The first edition was published in 1999 (reprinted in 2000) when the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had just taken over. That was a revolution of sorts in Indian politics. Since the notion of 'political Hinduism' had found expression in the establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1916, this was the first time that Hindu nationalists came to the centre-stage of Indian politics. The way the ideology had evolved over the century has been discussed in detail. This history is as important to know now as it was then. With that knowledge in the background what the present volume is meant to achieve through the inclusion of a new chapter, is to assess the successes and failures of Hindutva during the intervening seventeen-year period. How much of its ideology was it able to translate into policies? If not, what were the compulsions of plurality of India that came in its way?
The new chapter, Chapter X, is summary of all that happened to the BJP from the time Vajpayee took over as prime minister in 1999 to the present. During these years, the party ruled India for seven years and has also had the experience of being the party in the opposition. Many questions naturally are begging for answers. Why did Vajpayee lose in 2004 and Narendra Modi succeed so spectacularly ten years later? Did it symbolize a tectonic shift in Indian politics, or was it just an electoral possibility? Has Modi carried forward from Vajpayee, or in the overconfidence drawn from his electoral victory has he waylaid Vajpayee's advice to him to follow the raj dharma? Was Modi's 2014 landslide structurally different from Vajpayee's 1999 victory? And, most importantly, is it conceivable that the BJP will meet the same fate in 2019 as it did in 2004?
In the writing of my new chapter several persons have helped in one way or the other. They are Arunabh, Indira, Pulin, Ravinarayan, Taranath, Vikash and Ram Pratap. But the most thanks go to Ramesh Jain, my publisher, who convinced me of the necessity of this second edition. And through him I thank his consultant who strongly advised him to go for a rerun of my earlier book with a new chapter. My thanks are also due to the copy-editor for her thoughtful editorial touches. Our joint effort will be vindicated if my readers find this new edition useful.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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