Editorial

Saffron machination

  • BJP’s victory in UP indicates it is set towards gaining hegemonic status

Mar 13, 2017-Results for assembly elections in five Indian states—Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab—were revealed on Saturday. The Congress managed to win in Punjab. Neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) managed to achieve majorities in Goa and Manipur. And the BJP swept elections in both Uttarakhand and UP. 

Among these five states, the results from Uttar Pradesh have received the most attention, since the BJP attained a stunning and unprecedented victory in this state. Consisting of 220 million people, UP is by far India’s largest state and is also a neighbour to Nepal.

The BJP won over three quarters of seats there, with 325 out of 403 seats. This is the largest electoral victory in the state since 1957, when the Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru was firmly in power and didn’t have any real political rivals.

The BJP’s victory in UP is bound to have major political ramifications in the years ahead. The victory was so comprehensive in scope that there is no doubt about the BJP’s position as the preeminent party in Indian politics. Analysts believe that it indicates that the BJP is almost certain to achieve a major victory in the 2019 general elections. 

But this is not all. The BJP’s victory in UP indicates that it is well set towards establishing hegemonic status in Indian politics, the likes of which have not been seen since Indira Gandhi led the Congress. This will mean major changes in all aspects of India’s society and politics.

The ideology of Hindu nationalism, which to this day has been on the defensive vis-à-vis the Congress’ secularist vision, is now set to dominate public discourse to an extent never seen before. That could have obvious echoes in Nepali polity too.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received a large share of the credit for the victory in UP. In the past, the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP party organisation had a fair degree of control over their leader. This is no longer the case. Modi now enjoys stronger control over his party than any other BJP leader in history. 

The election also reveals that the population in many parts of India was not so concerned with the negative effects of demonetisation.

The BJP’s victory indicates that most people were willing to take Modi at his word, and came to think of demonetisation as something essential to cleanse India of “black money” and punish rich profiteers and criminals.

The BJP’s victory in UP is sure to arouse fear among minority communities, especially Muslims. After all, the party has long espoused a Hindu majoritarian vision that has stigmatised minority groups. We hope that the party takes steps not to exacerbate divisions between communities. 

In Nepal, the active saffron machination is likely to further destabilise the already-fragile transition. Instead, in the larger picture, New Delhi and Lucknow need to stick to the original commitment for a federal democratic republic and help, among others, ease the recent border tension.

Published: 13-03-2017 08:43

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