The largest-ever election in the world has peacefully concluded. For the first time in the history of India, an incumbent prime minister who ran a full term government with a full majority has been reelected with a double-digit gain in voting percentage. Matter of factly, this feat was not even possible for Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi.
This historic win baffled LeLis (left-liberals, who fallaciously call themselves ‘liberals’, though), who are tumultuous critics of the prime minister. They have been shouting from the roof on lack of jobs, agrarian distress, and destruction of constitutional bodies, etc. Since all of these fell flat, they hastily arrived at a sweeping conclusion. Whether it is the LeLis- Indian or westerners, media- local or foreign, or poll pundits- regional or national, they all have just one thing to say: the rise of Hindutva forces.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
LeLis usually flounder when they analyse the outcome of elections involving the prime minister or his party. It’s not new, and you should not expect it to be any different now. The theory on the rise of Hindutva forces is just bogus. Read on to know why.
This election is unique in many ways in the history of independent India.
Out of the 900 million eligible voters, 67% exercised their franchise, the highest ever in the history of Indian elections. That’s a whopping 600 million citizens. This makes it the largest ever general election of the world. This election has seen the highest recorded participation by women. With over 15 million first-time voters in the age group of 18-19, the electoral population consisted of a significant percentage of young voters under 30 years.
The LeLis have always seen the rise of Mr. Modi through the prism of Hindutva. They have rubbished Mr. Modi’s “sab-ka-saath, sab-ka-vikas” (grow together) as mendacious propaganda. In fact, it is this analysis paralysis which caught them off guard.
Hindu voters in India never vote based on religion. Period.
There is a long history of evidence since independence. For example, take three states in India, which are supposedly conservative, religiously.
Firstly, West Bengal. Hinduism is the largest religion in the state, with approximately 71% of the population (as of 2011). When the world thinks of West Bengal, the first image that comes to mind is Durga Puja, followed by Kali Puja. There are millions of hardcore, devout people who follow their religious practices to the core. Bengali Hindus in West Bengal observe a number of festivals, hence the Bengali proverb Baro Mase Tero Parbon (Bengali: বারো মাসে তেরো পার্বণ, “thirteen festivals in twelve months”). Majority of them follow either the Shakta or the Vaishnava traditions, and some follow a synthesis of the two.
The Bengali Hindus always believed that religion is one’s personal belief, and should not be an influencing factor while choosing a government. The longest rulers of West Bengal have been hardcore atheists, Communists. Although the communists never believed in God, it never bothered millions of conservative, hardcore Bengali Hindus. The fact that they kept on electing the communist governments establishes that the Hindus do not vote based on religion.
Secondly, Kerala. With approximately 57% of the Hindu population as per 2011 census, this land of Adi Sankara has a unique local guardian deity, usually a goddess, in almost every village. With temples such as Sabarimala and Guruvayur, which observe rigorous and conscientious religious practices, the Malayali Hindus are no less devout than Bengali Hindus. But that never stopped them from electing communist governments.
In fact, Kerala was the first ever state in India to vote for a communist government. Since 1982 every other government has been a communist government. As it happens, the UDF, which is led by the Indian National Congress, also has parties with communist ideology. The altercation of these ideological differences never stopped the Malayali Hindus from electing nihilist governments. They always saw religion and government to be disparate.
Thirdly, Tamil Nadu. The land of temples. A whopping 87.58% of the population in the state are Hindus. With references that date back to as early as 5th century BCE, the religious history of Tamil Nadu is swayed by Hinduism. The 12 Azhwars and 63 Narayanars were the exponents of Bhakti tradition in South India for several centuries.
Actually, in Tamil Nadu one can find the real definition of secularism of the Hindus. Their Gods were abused, religious texts were criticised, etc. But that never stopped the Tamizh Hindus from electing the governments led by Dravidian parties.
It’s perhaps as easy as falling off a log to find a Hindu voter in India who chooses a candidate based on the caste. But it is as difficult as to find a needle in a haysack to find one who votes just because the candidate was a Hindu.
Then why don’t the LeLis get it? Three possibilities.
One. They are applying the logic of western thinking to analyse Indian politics. Western political and social theories seldom apply to Indian society. The structure and composition of Indian society are far more complex than any western nation. So, employing a framework developed for the western societies on Indian society (which has become a significant practice in the colonial era) can only result in incorrect conclusions.
Two. The Hindutva theory suits the leftist and liberal propaganda. It supports their stand to prove that the Hindus are communal, intolerant, non-secular, and can easily be influenced based on religion. It is this approach that lets Wikipedia, for instance, to describe Hindutva as “almost fascist in the classical sense, and adheres to a disputed concept of homogenised majority and cultural hegemony.” A textbook example of liberal indoctrination.
Three. The new India, which consists of a large number of women and young voters, does not really care about a candidate’s religion, or background, or dynast-history. Their logic of selection could be far more straightforward than one can imagine. “What have you done? What is your vision?”. By concluding that the women and young voters of the country chose their candidates solely based on religion, the LeLis are not only missing the aspirations of this new wave of voters but also grossly insulting them.
This is an important moment in the history of India. There will be books written, articles published, movies made, and so on. One would not be surprised if this becomes a case study for political students and research scholars worldwide. It should be. It has all the essential ingredients for several Ph.Ds. However, as long as one tries to apply the western thought to analyse these elections and approaches with a hidden agenda, the conclusions drawn would be flawed and far from reality.
And the left-liberals will continue to be flummoxed. Forever.