Hindutva Fatigue and the Election Results in Karnataka

After the great victory of Congress in Karnataka is there reason to Hope? Is the world of hate retreating and love has a new lease of life? This condition was evoked by Rahul Gandhi soon after the victory of Congress in Karnataka became palpably real. Are we reaching hate ridden Hindutva fatigue ? is it Hope that has won against a politics of fear and hate? The voice of the people has spoken loud enough exposing the silences of media. The electoral results seem to indicate that distances marked by (political) Hindutva are bridged to a large extend by ordinary people. Does this suggests that political preferences of our people are changing? It appears so. The buy one and take the other free offer where the BJP purported to give (though undemocratically) its voters a double engine Sarkar where the central engine come free if local engine is supported by them has been rejected by the people. Maybe the people have already seen and anticipated that the central engine which has converted the parliament into a silent rubber stamp to itself is also going to silence and disempower the CM and the legislature in Karnataka.

Even more stronger as well as unbecoming appeal to shout Jai Hanuman and press the button of the EVMs given by none other than the Prime Minister was rejected by the people of Karnataka. In is a defeat as well as victory with several lessons to everyone across the board. BJP who with its divisive, hate ridden and polarising campaign had put all its resources and even the reputation of the Prime Minister on stake was shown the door. Even as Manipur was burning, the PM appeared be an insensitive Nero busy neglecting India’s interest and serving his Party’s in Karnataka hustings. The people of Karnataka seemed to have seen thorough all the tricks of BJP as they gave double the seats to Congress so that operation Kamala is quashed in the bud as they put their nail on the coffin on the double engine sarkara. May be JDS became the victim in this regard for their many sins in the past and was reduced to less than 30.

While there are several takeaways from this unprecedent verdict of the people, may be it is interesting to look at the prospects of Hindutva as an electoral strategy. Several commentators of the political scenario in India have begun to say that Hindutva is reaching its saturation point and may not be and easy political milking ‘cow’ for the saffron Party. A hard-hitting book , The Crooked Timber of New India by Palbhakara Brabhakar, that was released in Bangalore city on the back of the defeat of BJP in Karnataka has become a scathing critique of PM Modi calling him incompetent in most things, particularly economics. It is presenting what has been presented as New India is actually a dark age where the base instincts in us are being invoked for votes. He says that the incompetence of the Government is glaringly visible in economics and he names it as Voodoo economics and cites demonetization as example of such an economics. He says that voodoo economists that advise the centre have shattered the hopes of our people as they have not been effective as a result our country has added 70 million people to the world’s poor. This is why maybe we have to agree hope has won against hate, fear and sheer incompetence. How long can people live under the restless sway of base emotion which are dressed in the attire of ones faith? It seem that Hindutva is reaching its point of fatigue and BJP that has put all eggs in its basket is meeting its waterloo.

The diverse India is asserting itself against the forces of homogenization. Perhaps, Byung-Chul Han’s Book, the Burnout Society, may give us an insight to understand the fatigue of Hindutva. Han says a society reaches a burnout condition when it reduces the otherness of the other into difference and deal with it as an oppositional relation. We can see how using the religious framework, the religious other of the majority community is converted in a oppositional community. This is why we saw the oppositional or binary politics of Mandir/ Masjid, Hijab and Halal, Bajrangdal and Lord Hanuman being played out to the brink of nausea in Karnataka. The fact that people rejected this Hindutva drama shows that India is becoming tired of this hate politics. This in indicated even more forcefully even by several detractors of Congress who said that Congress scored a self-goal by needlessly declaring in its manifesto its desire to ban Bajrang Dal. Now after the result there are other commentators who declare the Prime Minister and the BJP blindly walked in the trap laid down after a study based on the data on the ground by the new Prashant Kishore of Congress Sunil Konugollu whose strategy paid rich divident.

Sujit Nair in his editorial in his You-tube based new channel has been opining for some time now that communalism was working like a diminishing law of marginal utility. Having advertising back ground, he backs his opinion with data and facts on the ground. He says that Lokniti CDS survey published by the Hindu supported his position. Although, there are journalists like Barkha Dutt who caution us from extrapolating the Karnataka results nationally, Mr Nair says that the fact that India has become fed up with the hate driven communal politics of BJP is indicated by the results of Karnataka. Goan Political Scientist, Peter Ronald Desouza, in his article, ‘ intrinsic limits of Hindutva as an Ideology of the Indian State’, way back in 2021 had observed that Hindutva cannot run a Indian State. He then went on to declare that Hindutva, the presiding ideology of BJP regime, did not have the imagination and capabilities and was, therefore handicapped in running a modern state. He seemed to have predicated the saturation point of Hindutva when he said , ‘ The BJP cultural steamroller can and will be halted by a cultural counter rooted in the cultural counter of the regional state.’ The Karnataka debacle seems to be proving his point . The election results of Karnataka appears to show that Hindutva has its limits and cannot be weaponised indefinitely. Perhaps, Hindutva fatigue has set in and India is breathing its freedom from a restless condition of suspicion and hate which came as a result of extra-constitutional definition of citizenship based on religion designed by a clever and crafty play of cultural nationalism.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao