Vijay Rupani is the new Trump Card of BJP’s Hindutva Politics
At the closure of the year 2013, the Bhartiya Janata Party went through a sea change, totally unnoticed. Why this huge change remained unnoticed has much to do with the declaration of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s name as the Prime Ministerial candidate. It was such a big political development within the BJP that all political pundits were busy wondering whether this tug of war between the master and the protégé would divide the party into two folds.
However, while speculating over the repercussion of this development, the political pundits somehow failed to notice the fact that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in its effort to unite the Hindus, is not just focusing on social action but is game for political manoeuvring too. A bet far ahead of the famous Mandal-Kamandal era.
The throw was to destroy the politics of assumption in the country and for this Narendra Damodardas Modi was always a better choice than the chaste Hindu face of LK Advani. The reason was the fact that he belonged to that strata of society (Ghanchi-Teli community) which could never be the centre of power within the caste ridden politics of the country.
Thus for Sangh, Narendra Modi was just the most appropriate bearer of its imagination of a Hindu Sangathan. Besides, by then, Narendra Modi was very swiftly able to transform his image from Hindu ‘Hridaya Samrat’ into ‘Vikas Purush’.
Narendra Modi was the first Chief Minister of any state who was talked about on international platforms. The Chief minister of present day Telangana and formerly Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu is credited with making Hyderabad Cyberabad, but he still fails to garner the kind of adulation worldwide that Modi commands.
Therefore, when the 2014 general election gave those surprising results, every one got themselves busy in understanding the newly ushered politics which was based on the dual philosophy of ‘Development’ and Hindutva. Whereas the fact remains that both Modi and the RSS were busy in uniting Hindu Society into one fold. That’s the reason you won’t find a single chaste or strict Hindu leader honouring the seat of power after 2014 election.
Those who are able understand this strategy of the BJP would very well understand why Vijay Rupani is the most suitable choice for Chief Minister of Gujarat. However, the support of Sangh, Amit Shah and Modi, is in itself a strong element in his favour, but there is more to it.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Vijay Rupani can become the biggest face of Sangh’s Hindutva agenda. Right after independence, Indian politics has always been dominated by majority and minority politics, which used to be a tricky deal for the Sangh since minority was practically synonymous with Muslims. Whether it’s the Sikh or the Christians, they were called minorities only in the aftermath of violent disturbances, like the 1984 riots or church attacks. In these situations, the Sangh always had to face the allegation of being anti-minority.
Thus, to ward off this allegation, Sangh had been steadily working in the direction to unite other minority communities into the fold of ‘Sanatan Samaj’ or ‘eternal community.’ Sangh has been endlessly working with the Buddhist, Jain and Sikh community.
Different political parties have used the subject of Dalit consciousness and Ambedkar amongst the Buddhist community to provoke them against the RSS and the BJP and they are still doing that. But it’s thanks to the influence of Sangh that the Bhikshus from Buddhist Community in Uttar Pradesh have started a ‘Dhamma Chetna Yatra’ in favour of the BJP, very much neglected by mainstream media.
The Jain community was given the minority status only a little before the 2014 general elections. The then minority minister Rehman Khan had said:
Like Muslims , Christians, Buddhists, Parsi and Sikh, now the Jain community will also be known as a minority community throughout the country and henceforth, they too will be entitled to all the benefits meant for minorities.
Before January 2014, the Jain community were residing only in states like UP, MP, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan. It was on the basis of the decision of the Centre that the state govt granted the minority status to this community; incidentally, this was announced by Vijay Rupani himself in the capacity of minister in the Gujarat Govt. A remark made by him shows what a masterstroke the decision to appoint him as the Chief Minister of Gujarat is, especially with respect to the Hindutva strategy of the RSS.
On June 25, 2016, during a programme for the minority community in Ahmedabad, the then Transport Minister and the BJP state head Vijay Rupani had said:
The Jain Community of the country in not keen on getting the minority status. But the Congress Govt gave them this status just before the 2014 general election for votes. There are some anti-Hindu forces in the country. We have opposed this minority status. Even after being given this status of minority, we will remain an integral part of Hindu society.
It’s a known fact that the Modi-Shah policies hinge on a desire to dismantle caste politics. Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana, Raghubar Das in Jharkhand and Devndra Phadnavis in Maharashtra are glaring examples of this sentiment. None of the above leaders have been able to show caste power in their respective states. Therefore, when Vijay Rupani’s name came to the fore, I was not surprised at all.
However, the appointment of Nitin Patel as Deputy Chief Minister was a tactical move to keep hold of the Patel community in the state. Amit Shah had finalised Vijay Rupani’s name for the post of Gujarat Chief Minister on Aug 2 itself, before Anandiben Patel’s resignation made it to Facebook. Narendra Modi was aware of these developments as well. When Anandiben Patel tried to suggest Nitin Patel’s name while lobbying for the Patidar cause, the parliamentary board told her in no uncertain terms that the final decision would rest with the party president.
Anandiben was expecting to get Modi’s support but, unfortunately, that did not happen. At last, a compromise was stuck where Rupani was named the Chief Minister and Patel his deputy. Here was a leader who, in spite of being given the minority status, was hell-bent on calling himself a staunch Hindu. On the other hand was the affluent Nitin Patel, who was standing with Hardik Patel in support of reservation for the Patel community, in doing which he posed an obstacle to the Sangh’s larger interest of uniting the Hindu Samaj.
Therefore, the decision to make him the deputy Chief Minister was not very difficult for the party, given that Modi-Shah are known for taking strong decisions. But for those who view the Sangh and BJP as a communal organisation, this decision might come as surprise.