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How six years of Modi Sarkar shifted the Overton Window of the country towards Hindutva dominance

The abrogation of Article 370, the Ram Mandir verdict and the Citizenship Amendment Act, undoubtedly, has been the defining trinity of the second term of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister thus far.

The 30th of May marks the first anniversary of Modi Sarkar 2.0. In many ways, it has been the most historic first year of any government on Independent India. Remarkable decisions were taken, historic disputes were resolved and the country definitively oriented itself towards pursuing a different national vision than the one forged by Jawaharlal Nehru.

The 6th year of Modi Sarkar brought to an end a variety of disputes, both major and minor. The abrogation of Article 370, the Ram Mandir verdict and the Citizenship Amendment Act, undoubtedly, has been the defining trinity of the second term of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister thus far. But such historic decisions were not borne in a vacuum. The foundation for it was laid during his first term.

Ever since he took office, Narendra Modi’s governance has geared itself towards shifting the Overton Window of the politics of the country. It can be said without a shadow of a doubt that when he took office, Hindutva was still the counterculture in the corridors of power. But in six years, he along with Home Minister Amit Shah has made Hindutva the dominant political force in the country.

Towards that effect, the biggest decision towards the shifting of the Overton Window was the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Until that moment, despite his significant political influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Warrior Priest of Gorakhnath was still a pariah in political circles. But one move by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah altered the entire dynamics of what constitutes mainstream politics.

In retrospect, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was perhaps the Big two of the BJP paying homage to the contribution made by the Gorakhnath Math towards the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Mahant Digvijaynath and Mahant Avaidyanath played a critical role in ensuring the Return of the King of Ayodhya to his sacred abode in Ayodhya.

As momentous it was, the elevation of Yogi Adityanath was only the highlight and not the whole reel of the manner in which Modi Sarkar shifted the Overton Window of Indian politics towards a more Hindu oriented approach. With every of his, Narendra Modi made it perfectly acceptable to be ‘Hindu and Proud’ in mainstream political discourse.

It may appear unthinkable now but six years ago, it was not the case and the entire political machinery worked towards shaming Hindus for their religious identity. The enemies of Dharma sought to make casteism and oppression of women the defining identity of Hindu philosophy. Narendra Modi liberated politics from such toxicity.

With each visit to a great Hindu temple, with his proud public demonstration of his Hindu identity, Narendra Modi made it clear once and for all that we shall no longer surrender our nation and its people to the false song of liberalism. Simultaneously, great emphasis was placed on the celebration of the Kumbh Mela as truly a national festival.

Another highlight of the first five years of Modi Sarkar was the defence of the traditions of the Sabarimala Temple. Yes, it could be argued that an ordinance could have been brought to settle the matter but that is a discussion for another day. But the fact is, the Prime Minister and the party came out unequivocally in the defence of Sabarimala Temple’s traditions and made it clear that the traditions were sacrosanct. Other party leaders also criticised the judiciary for interfering with Hindu traditions without any due reason.

At the same time, nationalist fervour gained momentum across the country as well. With political will, Modi Sarkar made it politically nonviable for parties to compromise in matters of national interest. Simultaneously, it was made clear to Pakistan that a game of dossiers won’t be played should it pursue its misguided terrorist adventurism.

The fervour was such that following the Pulwama Terror Attack, it was not a question of if Narendra Modi would take strong action against Pakistan, the only was when. And the answer came in the form of the Balakot Airstrikes. It is indeed a great shift in the Overton Window of a country’s politics when the Prime Minister is expected to pursue military action against Pakistan in retribution for the blood of the soldiers that was spilt. Gone are the days of UPA when Indians bayed for action against Pakistan but none was taken.

Another significant event of Modi Sarkar 1.0 was the crackdown on foreign funded NGOs and ‘civil society organisations’ that align themselves closely with Naxalites. ‘Urban Naxals’ was added to mainstream lexicon, quite a far cry from the days when such people used to dictate national policy and write our laws in the days of the UPA.

Nevertheless, the first five years of Modi Sarkar were spent on trying to lay the foundation for what was to come. But the hints were clear. And that is why we said that Nehruvian Secularism will not survive another five years of Modi Sarkar. And the events of the past year have only proven us correct.

It all began, of course, with the anti-Triple Talaq Bill. It was for the first time that a government of Independent India refused to cower before the Maulanas and Maulvis of the Muslim community. There was great opposition to it but Modi Sarkar refused to budge from the stand it had taken and ultimately, saw the path to the very end.

A sacred pillar of Nehruvian Secularism was desecrated by Modi Sarkar through the anti-Triple Talaq Bill. And it was a thing of great beauty. It was made clear once and for all that Islamic fundamentalists will not be permitted to run the roost in India any longer. And of course, what followed afterwards was the utter obliteration of Islamic fundamentalism from the corridors of power.

Currently, the Home Ministry under Amit Shah is busy making sure that the people responsible for orchestrating violence across the country in the aftermath of the Citizenship Amendment Act are brought to justice. ‘Activists’ associated with the far-left group Pinjra Tod have been arrested and numerous ‘students’ of Jamia Milia Islamia are languishing in jail as well for their alleged role in the violence.

And yet, there is still a lot of dissatisfaction among Hindus regarding the current turn of events. Article 370 is gone, CAA is here and Ram Mandir construction is underway and yet, people are not satisfied. But then, it is human nature to not remain satisfied and this is how it should be. It is both a testament to the quality of the leadership at the top and the desire to accomplish greatness of Indians that people are still not completely satisfied with those in power. And as I said, it is how it should be. People should always be demanding of their leaders.

Even so, the extent to which the Overton Window has shifted towards Hindu oriented politics cannot be denied. It is impossible now for a political party to insult Hinduism and still harbour dreams to play an important role in national politics. Recently, even demands for the abrogation of Article 30 that discriminates against Hindu were being made by people, led by none other than Kailash Vijayvargiya, the national general secretary of the BJP.

We have come a long way, yes, but a long way remains to be traversed. A lot has been accomplished but even more remains to be achieved. But it should be remembered that if we can stand today and hope for the things that we do, it is solely because Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and others have demonstrated that even more is possible and more can be achieved. It is because of them that we can stand here and still not be satisfied with what has been accomplished thus far.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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