Why brand Modi enjoys the halo of invincibility?
Apart from his jingoistic chest thumping on the issue of nationalism, his carefully manufactured humble “tea seller” background narrative, his self-branding as a crusader against the “Lutyens Delhi” establishment that’s made synonymous of the Congress Party, and his occasional crass jibes at the opponents, when he’s not reading a speech prepared by his brand consultants, Narendra Modi, India’s incumbent prime minister, doesn’t have any reliable, realistic or important agenda to highlight during this Lok Sabha election. The way he has torn into a disarrayed, disunited and utmost parochial opposition camp through his diatribe, communal polarisation and hyper-chauvinism, he and his patrons — the big foreign capital, the comprador-crony Indian capitalists and big feudal landlords — are 100% certain about winning a greater number of seats than the BJP‘s record performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha election riding the so-called Modi wave.
The confidence of the BJP and the prime minister on an imminent victory aren’t backed by any success of government schemes or welfare programmes. Modi, the BJP or their corporate masters aren’t expecting success because of the utmost bamboozled state of a dilapidated opposition, rather due to the success of Modi’s marketing campaigns and branding, which created a halo of invincibility around him. This halo, despite occasional breaches, isn’t affected by inflation, Rafale Jet scam, increase in incidents of violence against the minority Muslims or their forceful isolation from the mainstream, it’s not dependent on the level of unemployment, farmers’ discontent, anti-people demonetisation exercise, GST implementation, anger of the working class, or the overall frustration of small and medium traders.
This halo of invincibility is powered by a sense of entitlement that’s deeply imbibed in the consciousness of India’s majority Hindu community. This entitlement narrative is built around the concept that India under Modi is finally owned by the Indians, ie the Hindus, after it purportedly went through a period of cultural colonialism, ie a purported invasion of foreign cultures. Religious supremacy, caste supremacy, and a sense of being in a privileged position drive the voters towards Modi and the BJP, irrespective of their individual differences and anger over his policies or the mode of governance.
The powerful propaganda created by the RSS-led Hindutva fascist camp for nearly a century, which created an enemy out of the Muslim community shown as the “other”, helped to build a perception regarding the minority community in the minds of Hindus of all castes and even among the Dalits. Incidents, especially the militant activities of the Muslim League that led to the formation of Pakistan, the Kashmir movement or the subterfuge of Islamic terrorism, are used to create xenophobia that has stirred the consciousness of the majority Hindu community for decades.
First, the Maratha Brahmins, who were deposed due to the fall of the Peshwa rule, became victims of this propaganda and after being intoxicated by the politics of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha they stopped their opposition to the British rule in large numbers and turned the spearhead of hatred against the minority Muslim community. Later, the entire gamut of north Indian upper-caste Hindus became a victim of this propaganda. Among them, this xenophobic vitriol started growing gradually, crippling their ability to rationally think due to the fear of losing their caste privilege, their socio-economic dominance that entitled them to appropriate the labour of those at the bottom of the caste pyramid.
The separation of a Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1947, multiplied this fear of losing the hegemonic status and land rights manifold. In the post-colonial era, the large number of Muslims who chose to stay in India as a choice and discarded the “two-nation theory”, first propounded by the Hindu Mahasabha under Vinayak Savarkar and later usurped by the Muslim League, were projected by the RSS and other Hindutva fascist outfits affiliated with it as India’s internal enemies. The Pakistanphobia became a permanent subterfuge to arouse mass hysteria in India. The Muslims, who chose to live in India were shown as Pakistan’s decoys trying to destroy India’s overwhelming “Hindu identity” and turn it into a Muslim kingdom. Apart from this, bush telegraphs regarding the Muslims, including their way of life, their religious beliefs, family pattern, culture, language, practices, etc, have been vilifying the public perception about the community and have fuelled communal hatred and discrimination.
In a concerted way, the Muslims have been shown as enjoying privileges in India, despite being in the minority. The perception about a large-scale deprivation of Hindus and their persecution at the hands of a militant Muslim community was built even though the upper-caste Hindus, who are 10% of the population, own all the resources, employment opportunities, enterprises and socio-economic command of India, which was to be a secular state, while the Muslims, along with the Dalits, backward caste Hindus and tribal people, have been marginalised forever. The mainstream political parties have been projected as Muslim appeasers and pseudo seculars by the Sangh Parivar to bolster their propaganda over Muslim appeasement and the purported aggression of Islam.
This ludicrous and utmost whimsical allegation wasn’t refuted by any political player vehemently; the people weren’t educated enough by the non-Hindutva parties about the intrinsic toxic character of this propaganda and how venomous it’s for India in the last 90 years. Rather, in the name of defeating the Congress Party, which itself is utmost reactionary and communal in character, the so-called secular parties, mostly those with roots in the undivided Janata Parivar of the late 1970s, have appeased the BJP and the RSS. From the so-called Gandhian socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohiya to Jay Prakash Narayan, from the likes of Morarji Desai to trade unionist George Fernandez, everyone has strengthened the hands of the BJP by vouching for it and to taste the pie of power through the power of collaborative politics.
While the cliché on communal harmony and defending secularism are reiterated occasionally since 1947, especially after the Hindutva fascists demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, no concrete measures were taken to actually live the ideas of secularism championed in words by the Indian state. From the parliamentary left parties like the CPI and CPI(Marxist) to the so-called social justice parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Republican Party of India, each one of them have partnered with the BJP, and through it with the RSS, during the last 50 years to endorse Hindutva fascism as a mainstream political ideology. Their collective reluctance to bitterly fight against the menace posed by the BJP, RSS or the ilk of Modi arises from their reluctance to not disturb their own upper-caste Hindu votebank, on the basis of which they want to win an electoral majority.
The urban middle class and elites have a majority of upper-caste Hindus. These two classes are the political decision-makers during elections as they cast their votes without much external pressure or threat, which isn’t the case for the overwhelming masses of urban and rural poor. This makes the elections in India the electoral battle to woo these classes. By calculating the arithmetic of Indian elections and its peculiar numbering scheme, the BJP and the RSS found that Muslims can never make any difference in the ballot box as the middle class and elites in the community are far negligible in terms of numbers, while the poor and the downtrodden Muslims aren’t in a position to make any remarkable impact. This made them unapologetically Muslim bashers and they used unhinged Islamophobic ranting to polarise the voters from the middle class and elite sections, stunning their opponents.
In all these years, this Islamophobic, extremely reactionary and utmost corrupt communal agenda has got the best of north, west and east India. Even in places where the RSS’s presence has been negligible historically, Islamophobia has always been on the rise. Since the 1980s, the Muslim ghettoisation started and the complete isolation of the community happened after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom overseen by Modi, then the chief minister of the state. The ghettoisation, isolation and the disappearance of the Muslim community from the Indian society, its mainstream, didn’t just corner the minority community but also made it possible to brew more conspiracy theories against it by the Islamophobic Hindutva camp.
The rise of Modi from an ambitious BJP general secretary to the chief minister of a state rich in industries, resources and being an epicentre of cronyism isn’t a coincidence. He was carefully selected for the role by the RSS to become an icon of Hindutva, to be the rallying point for the frenzied and hysteric mob of Hindutva fascists. The branding done around him is a handiwork of the RSS and Modi played the role assigned to him with utmost loyalty towards the organisation that has made him.
An immense branding and marketing exercise was undertaken by the RSS to project Modi as the messiah of India’s overwhelming Hindu community. Powered by the crony-comprador capitalists, the Adani Group, the Ambanis, Modi became the best choice for India Inc and the international monopoly and finance capital. The sheer hatred that Modi and his gang have been spewing made them the best distracting factors the Indian politics has ever seen. By simply using the subterfuge of Pakistan, a purported victory against terrorism and the so-called “surgical strikes” that have no evidence, Modi and his coterie have confidently changed the dominant discourse of Indian politics from unemployment, farmers’ crisis, economic crisis and jobless growth to hyper-chauvinism, Balakote, “strong government”, etc.
The Indian masses, the upper caste Hindu elites and middle class, who do chest thumping for Modi and subscribe to the Hindutva fascist ideology, have never experienced the brutality and the damages caused by war. The theatre of the Second World War was far away, the three wars against Pakistan were fought far away from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Bengaluru. There have been no visible damage within the country by an overarching enemy, which makes a war cry a game for these classes. Their war fetish and their desire to even go into a nuclear carnage, which the prime minister recently iterated during one of his hysteria-infested rallies flocked by mob lynchers and rioters, are caused by their sheer stupidity and their inability to grasp the severity of war and its repercussions, which has caused Europe to abhor war in its own territory.
Until the time this war frenzy will live among the upper-caste Hindu elites and middle class, as long as these socio-economically dominant blocks will continue to support Islamophobia and Hindutva fascism by subscribing to the latter’s toxic propaganda, the carefully curated brand Modi, the indomitable and invincible brand designed by the big comprador and crony capitalists, along with their foreign corporate masters, will not wane away. Modi’s success lies in his projection of himself as undefeatable, unconquerable and insurmountable. The Lok Sabha election is fought by him on the age-old Hindutva fascist agenda; he is trying to make a comeback riding on xenophobia, chauvinism and mass hysteria. Logic, information, data, figures, etc, have no place in his narrative. The opposition is mocked as a gang of losers trying to undo the victory of Hindus. The corrupt capitalists are promoted as the drivers of economic growth, while the Hindutva fascist terrorists and mass murderers are christened as the patriots and nationalists, defending what’s called a Hindu India.
As Modi will survive this election, which will eventually become the last one in the history of India as the BJP and the RSS are determined to change the Constitution by 2022 using brute majority in all state assemblies, the lower and upper houses of the parliament, it’s likely that his victory will ensure his glorification as the undefeatable Hindu emperor and will turn him into a demi-god during his lifetime and a deity after his death. Modi’s invincibility will be used by his heir apparent Yogi Adityanath and his successor – Sadhvi Pragya Thakur – another Hindutva terror accused. The meek, disarrayed, mocked and discombobulated opposition, with parties that are loathed by the elites and the middle class, will never be able to halt this juggernaut of Hindutva fascism.
Be a Modi wave or not, India’s political future is decided on the favour of the utmost rightwing fascist thugs and if there is something that can really stop, uproot and destroy this menace then it’s the people’s democratic struggle led by the working class, with the massive participation of awakened, united and organised peasantry. It’s only these two classes, along with the toiled masses who can really chart a new beginning for India by launching a struggle that has the antidote to the venomous Hindutva fascist politics. Who, when and how actually instigates a real revolutionary and democratic anti-fascist struggle by uniting the revolutionary classes and people is an inevitable and spectacular chapter of Indian politics that’s yet to be seen.
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