India Might Not Survive Another Five Years of Modi
The South Asian giant becoming a religious authoritarian state is not only a threat to its 172 million Muslims but also to the country’s unity and integrity.
India will soon go through a 7-phase election process from 11 April 2019 to select a new government. If Narendra Modi manages to win the election and retain power, there is a well-founded fear that India’s secular constitution might not last for long.
Declaring India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ has been an open agenda of the RSS since its inception in the 1920s. It had even openly demanded Manusmriti to be the guiding force of the Indian Constitution in 1949 and had for long refused to accept India’s tricolour as the national flag. RSS knows very well if it fails to fulfil its dream of formally making India a Hindu republic in Pracharak Narendra Modi’s second term, it will probably never be able to do it.
This is a threat to India’s secular constitution and a painfully-cultivated inclusive polity, and the ensuing casualty of India being a Hindu Republic will be India’s democracy. To survive and thrive, a democracy needs a clear separation between religious kingpins and political leadership of a country. India, by following the path of ‘Hindu Rashtra’, will be forced to adopt a type of Iranian model — turning the RSS Chief to India’s ‘Grand Ayatollah’ or Supreme Leader with the real power while the farcically elected Prime Minister reduced to be the titular head.
The Indian Middle Class has fallen for the overwhelming perception that is being manufactured by the ruling regime and its political-media complex these days by blaming Muslims and Pakistan for all the wrongs in the country, it. It is quite difficult to comprehend that the Middle Class has been gloating over the regime-sponsored propaganda of India being the highest growing economy in the world, at the same time blaming Muslims for the country being poor and failing to create new jobs.
It is also baffling that the Middle Class, day-dreaming that India has surpassed China as the global power, still finds Pakistan as the country’s major threat. In India these days, there is very little space for reason and logic. The so-called argumentative Indians have become screaming Indians. A negative and defeatist passion has engulfed the country. Even educated elites and so-called liberals have been inflicted with a new HN (hyper-nationalism) virus.
India has passed through very difficult times in its 72 years of existence but had never blamed a particular country and/or a community for it as it does now. No one questions this mass-madness against Muslims and Pakistan, many blindly accept this Modi-manufactured discourse, others are scared to be branded as anti-Hindu and anti-national. India is fast slipping into an abyss.
The lack of unity among opposition parties has provided Modi a very fertile ground to powerfully-project a community and a country as Hindu nation’s enemies and at the same time build support for its ‘Hindu Rashtra’ project. The Congress party, in spite of its 40+ seats in the present Lok Sabha, is still the only party, which can challenge and checkmate Modi and Sangh Parivar over their grand plan of winning the election again and turning India to a Hindu Talibani state.
But, the smaller-state level parties, who are basically family-run political clubs without any political ideology and the only aim is to be in power or with power, are doing all they can to scuttle the process of opposition unity and actively facilitating Modi’s capture of power again. Most political commentators, who had supported Modi’s coming to power in 2014 in the name of their opposition to UPA’s corruption, are shedding crocodile tears in TV studios every evening over the Congress not being accommodative enough to create an opposition unity. Strange that these political commentators don’t see any role of the state-level satraps in saving India from falling into the hands of Hindu chauvinism forever.
There is no doubt that if Modi wins the election again, it will be good for the Congress as a political party and its organisation. Many old-timer power-brokers of the party have taken into a mindset as if ruling the country is their birthright. Another defeat might send many of them to retire or move to other parties in the search for power. That will help Rahul Gandhi to bring in new leadership, new ideas and most importantly, for the party to get back its fighting spirit. He is young, the natural face of opposition and has international recognition and support. He can politically afford to wait.
However, one must realise that if Modi retains power after the election, Indian politics will not move in a business-as-usual approach. As some BJP leaders have already hinted, 2019 might be India’s last election. To remove Modi from power and to get India back its secular constitution, Rahul Gandhi might not get the option of a regular election in 2024, most likely he will need a popular democratic revolution.
A revolution, if it is relatively peaceful and leads to a smooth transition of power, will not be a bad thing for India or Indian society. It might help to get Indian politics more inclusive and gender-balanced, less caste-based and regional. However, the puzzle is whether India will survive as a Hindu Rashtra under Modi and RSS long enough for a popular upsurge to emerge in favour of democracy and secularism and bring the Congress Party back to power.
India, a country of huge size and immense diversity, needs a functioning secular democratic structure to survive itself. The South Asian giant becoming a religious authoritarian state is not only a threat to its 172 million Muslims but also to the country’s unity and integrity. Indian polity can possibly be ripe enough to go through a peaceful secular democratic revolution in a period of five to ten years to overthrow an authoritarian leader, but the real risk is that a violent civil war might precede the popular revolution, and that India as a country most likely can’t afford.
The writer is a professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden.