ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics amidst Neo-liberal Existentialism

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Even though “The Messages, Mathematics and Silences That Formed the BJP’s UP Win” (EPW, 18 March 2017) is an interesting article with some “field” insights, it fails to go deeper into the dynamics of the twin master narratives —“nationalism” and “development”— through which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have succeeded in consolidating its base in Uttar Pradesh (UP).UP is a state otherwise known for its complex social landscape with a delicate play of identities like caste, religion and class. We know that the discourse of nationalism is a contested domain. While the proponents of liberal–left–secular nationalist historiography celebrate India’s culture of confluence through the tales of Ashoka, Akbar, Kabir and Gandhi, the Nehruvian blend of modernity and civilisational ethos and through state-initiated “socialist” projects, subaltern and postmodern historiography pleads for “fragments,” “differences” and irreconcilable identities without any stable centre.

From “secular unity” to “identity politics,” these discourses of nationalism have missed the quest for the restoration of—what many in a religiously divided world regard as—the “Hindu pride” in the ancient “Hindu land.” And theBJP, with its roots in the Savarkar–Golwalkar theorisation of nationhood, is the political embodiment of this assertive project of cultural nationalism. At a time when the neo-liberal market economy atomises individuals and breeds perpetual existential insecurities, an emotive ideology of cultural nationalism has tremendous appeal. It identifies the “enemy”; it promises “salvation”; it “stabilises” one’s broken self! Possibly, the intellectual discourses of secularism and subaltern consciousness have failed to minimise the impact of the catharsis that religious nationalism has created in the name of fighting “Islamic terrorism” or “cultural imperialism.”

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Updated On : 7th Apr, 2017

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