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Political despair, depoliticization 'creating' fertile ground for Modi, Hindutva

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
India needs investment in health infrastructure by establishing more medical colleges, research centres and hospitals. Indians need more doctors, nurses, pathologists, pharmacists, medical technicians, laboratories and hospital managers. These facilities are central to public health infrastructure in India. Instead of providing these facilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Indians to clap, bang thalis and light candles.
Clapping and candles will not help patients and doctors. It cannot stop the spreading of diseases and pandemics like COVID-19. India needs schools, colleges, universities, industries, employment and all other modern infrastructures. In every crisis, there is no policy response but Modi addresses the nation as if his speeches can heal the broken republic of India.
His speeches symbolize the art of deception; abandoning his constitutional responsibilities for the citizens of India during different crisis. In spite of all his failures, his popularity among Indians continues to surprise many.
There are three questions central to understand the rise of Modi, RSS and BJP. The first question is what explains the appeal of Narendra Modi to unforgiving Indian voters. The BJP won last two general elections under his leadership. The second question is how did the fringe elements of Hindutva cultural movement led by RSS become mainstream in Indian politics and society. The third question is how strong constitutional institutions became so fragile after the electoral victory of Modi led BJP.
The answers to the three questions can be found in the works of German philosopher Erich Fromm. His book “Escape from Freedom” (1941) outlines that fascism and its leadership grow when citizens surrender their freedom and “the readiness to accept any ideology and any leader, if only he promises excitement and offers a political structure and symbols which allegedly give meaning and order to an individual's life”. 
Manufactured crisis and fear are twin projects of Hindutva forces in India. RSS and BJP provide a deceptive nationalist ideological narrative based on Hindutva symbols which have no basis in history or Hindu religion. The strong leadership of Modi and RSS is based on false propaganda, which destroys the very cosmopolitan fabric of Indian civilisation. 
BJP and RSS pursued the politics of otherness by propagating the politics of Hindutva against Muslims and captured the political environment created by the failures of the Congress. It created a false sense of insecurity created by global war against Islamic terrorism, which helped BJP and RSS to pursue its politics of hate against Muslims. It also spreads a false sense of threat to Indian national glory by projecting Indian Muslims as pro-Pakistan, which is not true.
The strong leadership of Modi and RSS is based on false propaganda, which destroys the very cosmopolitan fabric of Indian civilisation
The desire for order and security under a strong leader has provided grounds for propaganda that led to the victory of Modi led BJP. The menace of demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax, abrogation of Article-370 of Indian Constitution, Citizenship Amendment Act, lynching of Muslims, imprisoning human rights activists and political opponents, gunning down leaders of rationalist movements continue to be cited as some of the ideological achievements of the Modi government in India.
The rising tide of unprecedented social disharmony, unemployment and acute economic crisis is battering India today. These are self-inflicted pains induced upon Indian society and economy by the architects of Hindutva to manufacture crisis, fear and otherness. This is a Hindutva shock doctrine to transform secular India into a Hindu Rashtra.
This shock therapy is essential to sustain and manufacture further crisis that will allow RSS and BJP to enjoy absolute power in India. It will cost Indians their freedom and constitutional, secular and liberal democracy.
There is a need for opposition to Hindutva under the leadership of Modi and his political practice. This is necessary for the survival of the unity and integrity of India. Opposition parties need to develop their own agenda and stop responding to diversionary and deceptive tactics of Modi-led Hindutva forces.
It is important for the opposition parties to recover from their inner tiredness and political resignation. Political despair and depoliticization are twin weapons that create fertile environment for the establishment and growth of Hindutva as a fascist force in India.
There is a need for mass movement against Modi to create an alternative narrative to counter the misconceptions created by Modi’s propaganda machine. It is important to highlight the ideological threats of Hindutva as a fascist threat to our society by highlighting lynching of Muslims, Dalits and human rights activists.
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*Coventry University, India

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