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

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Between Adhyatmik and Political Hindutva

Lok Sabha Elections in Telangana

In order to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda of communal polarisation, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, led by K Chandrasekhar Rao, articulated what it called “Adhyatmik Hindutva.”  Notwithstanding the inclusive character of this conception, its electoral feasibility and social desirability remain questionable.

The author is immensely thankful to the anonymous referee for the appreciation, critical comments, and suggestions that helped considerably in enriching the article.


The 2019 general elections in India once again posed a new challenge to the scholars of Indian politics in understanding the factors responsible for the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This challenge as posed by the BJP in general and by Narendra Modi in particular was tauntingly reminded by Modi himself in his election victory speech. He said that the issues of secularism, inflation and corruption were totally absent in the current election campaigning for the first time in Indian political history, and thus, the political pundits are not able to understand the alphabets of this historic victory. Though this historic victory can be interpreted in many ways, in evaluating the future prospects of the democratic ethos of this country and its survival, the immediate idea and insights it has given are to understand the issue of religious polarisation (via national security and Ram Mandir) and its success, which conveniently sidelined the focus on the promise of the Gujarat model of development to the entire country, of achhe din (with an end to corruption and more jobs).

In actualising this sensitive yet well-planned strategy, throughout the first phase of election campaigning, Prime Minister Modi very sharply criticised the Congress party over the issue of air strike (as the Congress consistently demanded proof), and he further went on alleging that the Congress labelled loving Hindus as terrorists. Also, interestingly, he emphasised that Hindus have never been involved in the act of terrorism and ruled out the possibility of Hindu terror. In this larger context of understanding how the 2019 general elections were dominated by the greater possibility of religious polarisation, the narratives used by the BJP throughout the election campaigning would provide valid insights in exploring the dynamics of the Hindu–Muslim binary and the impact of such narratives on the larger political culture. One such way to look at this impact is to make sense of Modi’s speeches during the campaigning in bringing up the narrative of Hinduness in different forms, especi­ally in places where the Sangh Parivar and other Hindutva outfits are aggressive and working relentlessly to otherise the minorities, especially Muslims.

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Updated On : 14th Feb, 2020
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