16 May, 2021

Hindu, Hinduer, Hinduest: Will The 'Hindu Vote' Decide 2019?

Will the ‘Hindu vote’ decide 2019? The BJP anyway thought so, now the Congress seems to agree. And the whole ground is lurching rightward.

Hindu, Hinduer, Hinduest: Will The 'Hindu Vote' Decide 2019?

Congress president Rahul Gandhi chose the 14th-century temple of Brahma in Pushkar, Ajmer, in poll-bound Rajasthan, to furnish his Brahminical credentials—a Kaul Kashmiri Brahmin of Dattatreya gotra. It was done unobtrusiv­ely, almost naturally, during the course of a puja on November 26. Mere detail? A banal formality one encounters when, say, filling up a form? Well, not quite. The act spoke volumes, and eloquently. Culminating a series of public gestures, made in the backdrop of competing gestures, it framed a fundamental shift in India’s political climate. If one asks what the key difference is between the 2014 general election and the upcoming one, it could be this. ‘Congress vs BJP’ was once categorised, even if not very neatly, as ‘secular vs communal’. An overt touch of ‘Hindu vs Hindutva’ has now coloured that equation. The Congress offers a nuanced gradation there, but it’s a risky tactic that seems to be setting off a domino effect—with unforeseen consequences.

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