Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home Opinions The rise of Bharatiya Janata Party and Cultural Nationalism

The rise of Bharatiya Janata Party and Cultural Nationalism

A national party is not built in one election; the BJP’s rise from 2 seats in the 8th Lok Sabha to 282 seats in 16th Lok Sabha is testimony to the fact that ideology and organisational rigor are more effective than TRP theatrics and divisive election arithmetic.  

Part One: Cultural Nationalism and its influence on the growth of the BJP

To any Sangh outsider, the rise of the BJP in the last three and half decades is easily understood when attributed to causes like rise in Hindu Nationalism and Hindu consolidation. However, to those who have seen the working of the RSS from close quarters, BJP’s formidable rise is the result of a hard fought battle to politically validate a long-standing and intrinsically nationalistic cultural identity.

For many, the idea of nationalism is elusive: why stop at the nation, why not identify with humanity on the whole, why base our identity on the geographical boundaries of a country? Such questions may seem naive to those who have already immersed themselves in nationalistic agenda. They are valid and introspective questions, nevertheless.  
BJP’s National Vice President, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe points to some answers in a recent article. He writes–

“One can’t deny that all individuals live under multiple identities at any given time and maturity hinges on how skillfully one manages these identities and more importantly, gradually learns to give more emphasis on larger identity without denying the primacy of the primary or smaller identity. This identity helps one continuing with a situation where one feels insecure, threatened, lost, or defeated. Identity is a socio-psychological phenomenon. It is because of this symbolism that imagery, vocabulary and terminologies acquire importance. They connote something and when one is able to decode these, communication happens. Culture enables one to unravel this messaging. And this obviously has several ingredients: language, geography, monuments, persons, music, art, fashions et al. When we in the BJP/RSS talk about cultural nationalism, we mean only this and nothing more.”

The ideologues of the Sangh Parivar, spiritual in their intent yet realistic in their outlook spent time and thought in addressing conflicts regarding the nature of nationalism. In his book Bunch of Thoughts, Guruji M.S Golwalker writes  against the very notion of territorial nationalism —

“Even to this day, after the British have quit the land, we are witnessing the disastrous effects of the reactionary and perverted concept of nationalism. Our leaders are not prepared to revise and correct their territorial concept of nationalism which has led to the unprecedented tragedy of partition of our motherland, with all its continuing and growing dangers, and the uprooting of over two crores of our brethren resulting in their indescribable miseries of desolation, distress and dishonor.”

Dismissing the very notion of territorial nationalism, Guruji provides insights into his definition of cultural nationalism in India and its inherent relation to Hindu civilization. To understand the ideas of any philosopher, Guruji, Hegdewar or even Savarkar in this context, one must shed preconceived notions of morality and consider the circumstantial and contextual references that define a thinker’s outlook. Those who laid the foundation for the RSS understood that at the time of India’s independence consolidating a national identity was critical to protecting the country’s newfound sovereignty. It was only natural to them that such an identity be based on the cultural fabric that for many centuries defined ancient India. Whether this fabric was inclusive (or secular) in its outer appearance was inconsequential as for the very nature of Dharmic (Hindu) thought has been that of non-discrimination and inclusion.

Naturally perversions to these ideas have occurred: does Hindu Rashtra mean no place for religious minorities, do those with opposing views have no place within the cultural ethos of our nation? Answers to these questions lie again in the fact that Hindu dharma was built on far greater truths of inclusion and acceptance than any other known body of thinking. Dissent is a way of not only allowing for a broad range of views to be accommodated but also for the expansion of the Hindu way of thinking. Those who truly and genuinely want to criticize, learn and better this cultural ethos that exists in the country do so with respect and reverence. In return, Hindu Dharma and therefore our culture adapt to these course corrections while always nurturing core beliefs.

Across these last three decades of the BJP, the message of cultural nationalism has been integrated into the polity in different ways. During the early days of the BJP, it was through an indigenous economic model of Integral Humanism as postulated by Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. During the 1990s it was the vocal Ram Janmabhoomi movement that steered the BJP to form its first ever Government.

Today’s India is far different than the one the British left behind, or even the one that marched to Ayodhya with the Rath Yatra. Our globalized, technologically connected world is allowing for multiple, fluid identities. In such a time, BJP has reinforced its belief in its core ideologies as evidently seen in the words and work of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas to Make in India, weaving threads of cultural nationalism that are relevant for 21st century India is being done subtly, sometimes with confrontations but being done nevertheless.

- Advertisement -

While cultural nationalism has become the binding factor on which the foundation of the BJP was built, other ideological doctrines have influenced the political party in different ways. Among them ‘ Integral Humanism’, a theory first put forth in 1965 by Deen Dayal Upadhyaya acts as an economic compass to the policies of BJP when in Government. Part two of this series will dwell on the influence of ‘Integral Humanism’ on the economic positioning of the BJP.


– Surabhi Hodigere, a Political Entrepreneur from Karnataka is the Founder-CEO of PQ Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a firm that provides elected representatives with bespoke solutions for constituency development. She is also a Board Member of Kairos India, a internationally recognized organization with a mission to nurture student innovators in the country. Surabhi writes on politics, economics and spirituality.  

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

HRCE Dept uses the ‘we are doing what Kings did’ argument, claims ‘secular’ state of Tamil Nadu entitled to control temples

HR&CE Dept has filed an affidavit at the Madras HC saying that though the state of Tamil Nadu is secular, it is entitled to control temples.

‘No right to question integrity of successors’: 26 former cops slam Julio Ribeiro for supporting people pushing ‘anti-India and communal narrative’

26 former police officers have written a letter slamming Julio Ribeiro for supporting people who push 'anti-India and communal narrative'.

In an ironical turn of events, BMC calls Kangana Ranaut’s plea an ‘abuse of law’ after hounding her for dissenting views

In an affidavit, BMC has also demanded that costs be imposed on Kangana Ranaut for making this plea and demanding Rs 2 crores damages

Delhi Police arrests journalist Rajeev Sharma for possessing classified defence documents, had written for Chinese mouthpiece GlobalTimes

Rajeev Sharma had written several columns for Chinese newspaper Global Times, the mouthpiece of Communist Party of China for the last several years.

Bloomberg Quint calls an economist an ‘infectious disease expert’ to peddle the theory that a high recovery rate is a ‘useless statistic’

The Quint earlier transformed an engineer to a doctor to prove that India is in the middle of community transmission stage

Julio Ribeiro and Open Letters, a love story better than Twilight: Here are some letters that the former IPS officer has signed

Former IPS Officer Julio Ribeiro has recently written to the Delhi Police complaining of their 'flawed investigation' into Delhi Riots.

Recently Popular

Nepal claims Indian cities Dehradun, Nainital under its ‘Greater Nepal’ campaign: Reports

The tension between Indian and its Himalayan neighbour Nepal is likely to mount again as Nepal continues to provoke India.

Here is why #BabyPenguin is trending on Twitter, and why Aaditya Thackeray is called so by some

Yuva Sena registered complaint against twitter user for calling Aaditya Thackeray "Baby Penguin" and Uddhav Thackeray "Aurangzeb"

“You are supposed to be unprejudiced,” investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala schools BJP-hater NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain

Without nothing left to say, Sreenivasan Jain laughed aloud and claimed, "I would love to think that I am unprejudiced."

From Ranbir Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt to Gauri Khan: The celebrities who flew ‘high’ and have battled drug addiction

Many Bollywood celebrities have confessed they had a drug problem at some point in their lives, some even went to jail for the same

Begusarai: Mohammad Maufiz used to rape his eldest minor daughter, sexually exploited other two minor daughters

Mohammad Maufiz in Begulsarai arrested after it was known that he is raping his eldest daughter for 5 years, molested two other daughters

Here is criticism of ‘a particular community’ as approved by the Honourable Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has not taken kindly to a show by Sudarshan News, criticising a 'particular community'

An eyewitness tells media that Disha Salian was gang-raped by 4 men in the party held on the eve of her death: Here are...

An eyewitness has told News Nation that Disha Salian was gang-raped by 4 men in the party which she attended on the eve of her death on June 8.

HRCE Dept uses the ‘we are doing what Kings did’ argument, claims ‘secular’ state of Tamil Nadu entitled to control temples

HR&CE Dept has filed an affidavit at the Madras HC saying that though the state of Tamil Nadu is secular, it is entitled to control temples.

Temple takeover issue: Uttarakhand govt bans protests within 200 meters of Kedarnath, priests say they won’t budge

Since June, the priests at Kedarnath Dham are protesting against the formation of Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board.

‘No right to question integrity of successors’: 26 former cops slam Julio Ribeiro for supporting people pushing ‘anti-India and communal narrative’

26 former police officers have written a letter slamming Julio Ribeiro for supporting people who push 'anti-India and communal narrative'.

In an ironical turn of events, BMC calls Kangana Ranaut’s plea an ‘abuse of law’ after hounding her for dissenting views

In an affidavit, BMC has also demanded that costs be imposed on Kangana Ranaut for making this plea and demanding Rs 2 crores damages

West Bengal and Kerala come under scanner as NIA arrests 9 Al-Qaeda terrorists, were planning multiple attacks

The National Investigation Agency arrested eight terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda from Murshidabad in West Bengal and three from Ernakulam in Kerala.

Delhi Police arrests journalist Rajeev Sharma for possessing classified defence documents, had written for Chinese mouthpiece GlobalTimes

Rajeev Sharma had written several columns for Chinese newspaper Global Times, the mouthpiece of Communist Party of China for the last several years.

Bloomberg Quint calls an economist an ‘infectious disease expert’ to peddle the theory that a high recovery rate is a ‘useless statistic’

The Quint earlier transformed an engineer to a doctor to prove that India is in the middle of community transmission stage

Minister Anurag Thakur apologises after ruckus breaks out in Parliament over his comments on the Nehru-Gandhi family

Anurag Thakur had slammed the Congress party over the PM Relief Fund during a discussion on PM CARES Fund

“You are supposed to be unprejudiced,” investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala schools BJP-hater NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain

Without nothing left to say, Sreenivasan Jain laughed aloud and claimed, "I would love to think that I am unprejudiced."

Connect with us

243,917FansLike
453,209FollowersFollow
15,900SubscribersSubscribe