Advani’s Hindutva vs Narendra Modi’s Hindutva

Vir Sanghvi in The Hindustan Times:

“The conventional view of Narendra Modi is that he is a Hindutva hero. It is true that he represents an aggressive brand of Hindu politics, but it’s very different from the kind of Hindutva that the likes of Lal Krishna Advani have espoused since the mid-1980s.

“Advani’s view of Hindus is that they are tolerant, mild-mannered people, who have been driven to anger by the favours shown to Muslims by vote-hungry politicians…. In Advani’s Hindutva, the target is not the average Muslim, but the pseudo-secular establishment whose pursuit of vote-bank politics has left Hindus feeling like second-class citizens in their own country.

“That’s not Modi’s position. His brand of Hindutva is angry, vituperative, aggressive and overly macho. Advani is the elderly, cultured uncle who tells you that enough is enough. But Modi is the brash demagogue shouting questions at the crowd and waiting to hear the roar that emanates in response.

“Nor is there any subtlety to his politics. Like all crypto-fascists throughout history, his style is to isolate an easily identifiable group and to then portray it as the enemy. Adolf Hitler used this strategy to turn Germans against the Jews. Modi uses a variation to sow mistrust of Muslims.

“Modi’s brand of Hindutva has more in common with classic fascist demagogues than it does with the Sangh Parivar tradition. The BJP realises that it cannot afford to subscribe to this philosophy…. So, that’s the ultimate paradox: the BJP finally has a leader who can deliver an entire State but it simply cannot afford to let him rise any further.”

Read the full column: The Gujarat paradoxes