After the Indian Parliament's upper house approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), there have been sporadic speculations about how the hyper-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Hindutva oligarchy has been tarnishing the pluralism of India by singling out the Muslim minority, who constitute around 15 percent of the Indian population.
When many of the critics attribute the populist rise of Narendra Modi behind the saffronisation of India and its democratic institutions' plight vis-à-vis corporate Hindutva, a few would travel back in history in 1882, when Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay published Ananda Math - the book that envisioned India as a Hindu nation and pointed the Muslims as its enemy.
In a bid to shed light on the anti-Muslim politics in India that has been in existence for years, Salimullah Khan, a scholar and writer, said in an interview with the Depart Magazine, "For Bankim Chandra, his fellow-travellers and his followers in colonial India, colonialism was defined as Muslim rule that began early in the 13th century."
Khan's interview portrayed how the revolutionary 'nationalists,' after the partition of Bengal "began to actually argue that the Muslims of Bengal, and other reluctant communities for that matter, should be forced to be free, to become children of this mother (Kaali)."
After around one and a half century of Bankim Chandra era, the Indian Hindutva politics changed over the periods in terms of befitting itself as a sweetheart of the corporates, but the anti-Muslim perspectives of Hindutva remained the same all the way.
As Khan said, "Instead of new European oppressors, old feudal conquerors of the country who happened to be Muslims, were depicted as constituting the principal contradiction,"
The recent development in the Indian political spectrum fairly justifies the legacy of Bankim and the Hindu state he dreamed of by pointing the Muslims as enemy. Consequently, neither the populism of Modi, nor the Hindutva he preaches is anything new.
Modi is only bearing the mantle of a very old hatred.
In last four months alone, the BJP government has implemented two major controversial laws over the citizenship of India targeting the Muslim minority. In doing so, the ruling party has heated up the political spectrum of India to the extent that the pluralistic nature of Indian state portrayed as per the constitution is now also at stake.
On August 29, India published the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Amid the row over the NRC in Assam and the BJP's campaign to implement it all over India, the upper house of the Indian Parliament has approved a contentious citizenship bill known as the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) on Wednesday.
As per the Assam NRC, around 1.9 million Indian people – mostly the Muslims after the CAB ensured the protection of other minorities – are about to become stateless.
This controversial bill grants citizenship to all the minorities – except the Muslims – facing persecution from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries of India.
As the BJP singles out one specific minority repeatedly under the shade of democratic premise of a secular India, the pluralistic portrayal of the Indian state gets jeopardised that some critics warn as the "Pakistanisation" of India in reference to the Two Nation Theory of Muhammad Ai Jinnah.
The BJP returned in power in 2014 with the rise of Narendra Modi, a populist Hindu nationalist leader mired in controversy for his alleged involvement in the communal riots of Gujarat that killed more than a thousand people as per the government figures.
Narendra Modi, in partnership with BJP president Amit Shah, has been championing the decade-old Hindutva politics in India in alliance with the corporations ever since.
This Hindutva-corporate alliance, according to an article published on The Hindu by Professor Prabhat Patnaik of Jawaharlal Nehru University, is "threatening India's secular and democratic standing and miring the economy deeper in crisis."
Equipped as a new ideological prop for the corporate-financial oligarchy, the BJP promised double digit growth as a cover-up of its agenda to widen the division between the people of different faiths to garner political gains.
The dream of double-digit growth, however, has been proved to be a quagmire as India's economic growth slips to 4.5 percent, lowest in six years. But despite a growth recession, the BJP enjoys immense support thanks to the new discourse of Hindutva hyper-nationalism in the mainstream politics.
In the last Lok Sabha election in May 2019, the BJP defied the odds of economic recession and the peasant movement only by weaponising Hindutva hyper-nationalism and religious tension.
As a result, the Hindutva, instead of turning into a centre of criticism from the opposition, is growing as a potential political discourse in consideration of its corporate appeal and public support.
In the face of the rising populist Hindutva-corporate alliance, the biggest failure of India's democracy is the incompetence of its institutions like the media, courts and the opposition parties to defend the values of Indian constitution defying the BJP's ultra-nationalistic surge. The collective failure of Indian democratic institutions emboldens the populist regime of Narendra Modi to go ahead with the politics of hatred.
The BJP's controversial journey, apparently unstoppable for the time being, does not help in garnering peaceful coexistence among the people of irrespective of faiths and castes.
The party's obnoxious policies regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill and National Register of Citizens do not only marginalise the Muslims of India, it destroys India's pluralism.