Rise of the Political Right in India: Hindutva-Development Mix, Modi Myth, and Dualities

Kaul, N. 2017. Rise of the Political Right in India: Hindutva-Development Mix, Modi Myth, and Dualities. Journal of Labor and Society. 20 (4), pp. 523-548. doi:10.1111/wusa.12318

TitleRise of the Political Right in India: Hindutva-Development Mix, Modi Myth, and Dualities
AuthorsKaul, N.
Abstract

We are witnessing a global phenomenon of the rise of right-wing leaders who combine nationalist rhetoric with a claim to challenge the pernicious effects of neoliberalism. But, upon achieving power, they do not oppose the business elite, instead, while paying lip service to the victims of economic processes, they direct the blame for those structural problems upon the minorities and ‘Others’ within the rightwing nationalist imagination. In the Indian context, this is typified by the rise of Narendra Modi. Modi-led BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and its coming to power in 2014 has similarities with Trump, and is also different from the earlier incarnations of the BJP. In the first part of this paper, I explain the innovative nature of the specific Modi-mix of Hindutva and Development, and outline the toxic impact his right-wing populist givernment has had on a broad spectrum of Indian society and polity. However, in spite of the visible increase in real and symbolic violence across the country, Modi continues to remain popular and wield great influence. The second part of the paper answers this apparent puzzle by providing an account of the work of the ‘Modi myth’ that projects him as an ascetic, paternal and decisive ruler. This political myth is constantly reinforced through medium, speech, and performance. Further, given the many disparate constituencies with differing concerns that Modi-led BJP addresses itself to, the policy inconsistencies are reconciled by a strategic and systematic use of ‘forked tongue’ speech that presents the different interests as being uniform. A populist right-wing politics is constructed out of keeping these dualities in motion by speaking to the different constituencies with a forked tongue. I conclude by giving three examples of management of such dual domains: corporate/grassroots, national/international, India/Bharat.

KeywordsHindutva, Nationalism, India, Myth, Modi, BJP, Development, Right-wing movements
JournalJournal of Labor and Society
Journal citation20 (4), pp. 523-548
ISSN2471-4607
Year2017
PublisherWiley
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/wusa.12318
Publication dates
Published11 Dec 2017

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Accepted author manuscript
Under embargo until 11 Dec 2019

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