Hard Hindutva versus soft Hindutva

The Congress appears to have decided that to blunt the edge of the hard Hidutva offensive of the BJP during the election campaign, realpolitik demands that the Congress has recourse to soft Hindutva. It was first noticed during the Gujarat assembly elections, when party president Rahul Gandhi made a show of visiting temples. During the Karntaka assembly elections, too, Rahul’s temple visits continued and were given wide publicity. Now, in the run up to the coming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh also. Rahul undertook a Mansarovar Yatra with much fanfare. In his ongoing poll campaign in MP, he has taken on board Hindu saints and made them part of his road shows. To meet the exigencies of the poll campaign, the emphasis on secularism has been replaced by soft Hindutva.
The question is whether soft Hindutva will bring any electoral dividends to the Congress party. In competitive Hindutva campaign between the BJP and the Congress, hard Hindutva will any day beat the soft Hindutva of the Congress hollow. The Congress should have, instead, driven home to the electorate the message of its commitment to the ideals of secularism and democracy which are in danger under the saffron dispensation. The Congress should have been outspoken against the systematic effort to undermine science and the scientific temperament by promoting obscurantist ideas and passing off mythological stories as perceived “achievements” of ancient Indian science. The Congress has chosen to keep mum over a recent incident in which a BJP MLA of Jharkhand allowed one of his bhakts in full public view  to wash his feet and then drink that dirty water as a token of his devotion. The MLA defended the act by saying his critics were unable to understand the ’love’ that his supporters have for him.
The hard Hindutva which encourages and glorifies ghar wapsi and love jihad and cow vigilantism, cannot be countered by soft Hindutva. It has to be resisted with aggressive assertion of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress has to tell the people that secularism is not merely ‘neutrality’ between different religions but a way of life that encourages rational thinking and constantly fights superstition, blind faith and the supposed superiority of one religion above all others. The BJP must be deriving comfort from the fact that it has compelled its main political rival, the Congress, to de-emphasize secularisms and rely instead on Hindutva – a soft brand of it. The Congress may soon realize the stupendous folly of trying to beat the BJP in its own game.

Wednesday, 19 September, 2018