By Aiza Tanveer
The Bharatiya Jantiaya Party (BJP) sowed the seeds of ‘majoritarian policy’ by adopting Hindutva (crafted by the RSS) as a political ideology, surfacing Hindu nationalism and fundamentalism. The RSS vision has embodied elements of nationalism, populism, authoritarianism, and majoritarianism, expanding corporate tendencies, tormenting upper elite clutch, and liberating anti-minority hostilities. Soon after the establishment of BJP’s political setup, Indian social structure and politics have endured the dwindled space for freedom and civil liberties, ripping apart the banner of secularism. Narendra Modi portrayed his populist intentions to gain public support, when he projected himself as an ordinary man for people and by carrying out mass campaigns throughout the state, also using slogans for the purpose. By expanding the scope of national security in terms of civil order, containment of anti-national elements, using legislative implementation tools and police protocols proved to be its legitimate sources of power exertion and nationalism. The BJP effectively secured its control in Indian politics. The Modi government established its majoritarian state policy on the already existing legislative framework, followed by amendments, abrogation, and incorporation of new constitutional elements.
The adoption of majoritarianism in the ruling sophistication of the BJP governance greatly marginalized the minorities existing in the Indian region. The act is often thoroughly legitimized by the notion that their vast majority i.e. Hindus in the region, perceived it as a right to subjugate the politics of the Indian state. This ultimately generated room for forthcoming Hindu-oriented policies and resultant atrocities. The practical prominence of majoritarianism appeared in the initial days when the minorities residing in Orissa and Muzaffargarh were attacked in the years 2007 and 2013, respectively. Hence, the resistance and hostilities towards the minorities have accelerated ever since. Therefore, the theoretical depiction also highlights another dimension associated with a majoritarian state is its authoritative complexion. This dimension is traced in Modi’s setup which presents the concept of ‘Congress Mukht Bharat’, diminishing room for opposition and perceiving them as anti-national elements of threat. Moreover, the BJP regime pushed its circle of influence into the judicial system and the media indirectly, by inculcating false narrative and propaganda, hence, inviting more support for their political motives. Furthermore, incorporating limited bits of democracy like electoral procedure in such a deceptive setup of Hindutva principles has transitioned the Indian democracy into an illiberal ethnic democracy.
Illiberal ethnic democracy emerges out of ethnic nationalism, and ethnicity that exists as a majority that tends to resist and negate the concept of co-existence as well as acceptance of diverse ethnicities. This consequently, mobilized large masses of people, that appeared as a potential threat to the minorities; especially the Muslims in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35(A) of the Indian constitution abated the spirit of democracy, diminished its autonomy, and rendered widespread insecurity in Jammu and Kashmir. Another, legislative outcome of majoritarian policy surfaced when the ‘Citizen Amendment Act’ (CAA) was enacted. The bill resulted in the exclusion of about two million Muslims from the state of India as refugees, due to lack of necessary documentation, which deemed them as ineligible. This alienated the Muslims from their National identity, sharpening polarization and uplifting grievances. Another majoritarian aspect is traced in the framer’s bill that projects the capitalist agenda of Indian politics, aiding the private sector. Hence, it generated a stream of deprivation in business and economic terms amongst the farmers.
Furthermore, democratic representative styles are often used by populist entities for the expanded recruitment of public figures and the common people. Similarly, the Modi vote bank dilated firstly, because of the projection of economic aspiration in his campaign. Secondly, because of the representation of Hindu supremacist notion that leads to civilian inclination towards BJP, ethno-religious exclusivity, non-acceptance, and polarization in the societal composition. Moreover, the BJP political elite has used violence as a tool for their political action and power display, derived from Hindutva teachings. Hence, violence became a mandatory part of their political expression and control i.e. law of force and oppression. Like the emergence of violent trends in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, with the imposition of curfew and infliction of violence on the residing population. As the Indian military committed human rights violations, killings, extra-judicial executions, etc. Moreover, the state institutions also adopt the virtue of intolerance, as witnessed in the police raids on Muslim protestors in New Delhi, 2020, and on other occasions when the police department is less likely to prevent violence against the Muslims. Moreover, discriminatory policies have been observed in the educational, housing, and health sectors of the state. Using public violence as a legitimate tool for politics has dismantled the liberal democratic order of India.
On account of India’s current political and legislative policies, the social factions have propelled into a state of a dilemma of in-group and out-group association. Where the out-groups or the non- Hindu religious Indian minorities are alienated and have been inflicted by unmeasurable damage. Hence, the polarization has dispersed potential for large-scale violent confrontation and conflict escalation, disrupting the law and order situation in the state. Moreover, the freedom, civil liberty, and the human rights situation of the minority groups have been greatly compromised in the BJP-Modi era, this proves to be an existential threat to the minorities presently, and in the subsequent time.
Aiza Tanveer is an undergraduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defense University, Islamabad.