Setting a political trend

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/29/2021 12:53:51 PM IST

 Since 2014 the political landscape of India changed when BJP trounced the UPA in a historic landslide that was more than expected and which came after years of planning, strategising and hard work. Having won in 2014, the BJP has been changing the political narrative while the opposition failed to connect with the people across which was reflected when BJP came back with a bigger margin in 2019. Having stolen a march through the changed political narrative, the BJP has mastered the art while all other opposition parties fumble. As opposition parties try to meander their way for votes, they cannot help but try to do it the BJP way- appealing to the sentiments of the religious majority. What has happened to elections in India is about appealing to the sentiments of the majority community. Thus mandir politics and offering pujas at mandirs is very much part of the electoral menu. This has happened much before 2014 when during the 90s, there was a significant shift that was brought about due to the failings of the Congress. At times, the Congress practiced a form of pseudo-secularism, manipulating religion when it benefited the party and using religious minorities as a vote bank rather than treating them as genuine constituencies. This fitted very well with the game plan of the BJP in setting the stage for the rise of Hindu nationalism or the ideology of Hindutva. To be seen visiting mandirs has become part of the campaign menu which non-BJP political parties are trying to copy, even if unconvincingly. Visiting of mandirs needs scrutiny in the larger political context. It has two elements that are relevant in this regard. One is the constant effort to make religiosity a public issue and enforce the burden of a public display of religiosity on both the public and the political leader. Since the Ayodhya movement of the late 1980s, the public display of religious identity and religiosity has become central to the political sphere. The so-called secular parties like the Congress, Aam Admi Party (AAP) and even Trinamool Congress have made mandir visitations part of the campaign schedule. The secular credential of the Congress all but evaporated after 2014 when, the party’s heir apparent- Rahul Gandhi- tried to replicate the BJP with his mandir visiting spree, especially during elections. The objective was to publicise such visits for political mileage to woo the majority community. Once Rahul was asked if he was a Hindu. Had he replied that as a devout Hindu, he practised its syncretism and ideals of Gandhi, it would have made the difference. Instead, Rahul bragged about being a Shiv Bhakti. By subscribing to the identitarian politics aimed at the majority community, Rahul only strengthened the political culture of majoritarianism. Even the AAP has taken to mandir visitations. Its leader Arvind Kejriwal visited temples to publicise his faith. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who used to pride herself of being secular, has visited as many as 19 temples during her recent electioneering. The current national narrative spawned by divisive politics is sharpening. While opposition parties lose no opportunity to call BJP communal; yet scramble to be seen visiting religious places, it only relegates the so-called idea of India to the portals of history.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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