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

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Politics of Counter-narratives and Appropriation

India’s North East too has not evaded the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political strategies of appropriation of publicfigures and construction ofcounter-narratives. While the BJP is engaged in the process of appropriating Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarma Manikya Bahadur into the Hindu fold in Tripura, in Nagaland, the party’s attempt is to glorify Naga spiritual leader and freedom fighter “Rani” Gaidinliu and construct a counter-narrative to Christianity to strengthen its base. In short, politics is the ultimate goal.

Politics in contemporary India is witnessing the construction of counter-narratives to the dominant narrative and the appropriation of public figures to suit the interest of the ruling dispensation at the centre. Such a process is visible not only at the national level, but also at the regional and local levels. In the recent past, one has seen the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) appropriation of leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambedkar at the national level, and social reformers like Sree Narayana Guru in Kerala at the regional level. While at the national level the construction of counter-narratives to secularism and cultural plurality is taking place, the phenomenon is also visible at the local level, such as the celebration of Onam as Vamana Jayanti and the the replacement of the reminiscences of asura king Mahabali with Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu.

Like the mainland, India’s North East is also in the grip of the politics of appropriation and construction of counter-narratives. One can see the BJP’s premeditated attempts to construct counter-narratives and the appropriation of local leaders and communities in the region. In Assam, counter-narratives have been constructed to appropriate the Sankardev cult; in Meghalaya, the Sen Khasis, an aboriginal tribal group; and in Mizoram, the Brus, a displaced minority tribal community which settled in the six relief camps of Tripura, as parts of the larger Hindu fold. However, the most glaring instances of appropriation and counter-narratives are found in Tripura and Nagaland.

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Updated On : 11th May, 2017
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