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Questioning the BJP’s ‘National Integration’

Healthy electoral politics strives for reciprocity, not primacy between individual and national interests.

 

Predictably, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in their election campaign continue to harp on a particular notion of nationalism, which, until the Pulwama attack happened, was militaristic and combative in nature. The BJP’s politics of “nationalism” seeks to convert its democratic dissenters into the enemy, thus furthering the continuum between India and the “enemy country,” which is Pakistan. The combative image of the nation has been aided by some of the Hindi television news channels as well as the print media, which have been using the militaristic terminology of waar and palatwaar (attack and counter-attack) or bada hamla (big attack). The rather dramatic announcement made by the Prime Minister about sending a missile to shoot down a satellite was the latest addition to this militaristic vocabulary. During this period of the run-up to the general elections, this has taken a more morally coercive turn. This is evident in the statement that the BJP’s members are making in various ways: “If you do not vote for the BJP, you will be voting for those who seek the disintegration of India.” The BJP, however, is desperate to create an internal enemy in the form of the Congress. This was once again made clear by the BJP spokesperson’s selective “criticism” of the Congress election manifesto as being anti-national. In fact, the BJP-led government at the centre has used its pet brand of nationalism as a stick with which to beat all democratic dissent into silence.

At other times, the BJP has been trying to define Indian nationalism in the framework of a combative relationship with Pakistan. In the times of elections, however, this is bracketed into a critique of Pakistan. In this context of the BJP’s election campaign, there are three crucial questions that emerge.

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Updated On : 30th Apr, 2019

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