Modi and the OBC question
‘India’s next prime minister should be from the backward classes’, said Sushil Kumar Modi, the former deputy chief minister of Bihar, in one of his recent TV talks. According to him the most suitable man for that position from that background is Narendra Modi. The Sangh Parivar zeroed on Modi as he is also an OBC to head their election campaign team. With Modi managing his larger national role to move to Delhi as a definite prime ministerial candidate, the chemistry of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to change.
Earlier the loha purush and vikas purush (Advani and Vajpayee respectively) had conducted the Hindutva chariot. That was the twin leadership of baniyas with a combination of both moderate and hard line ideologies. Modi, a first ever OBC being proposed for the highest power position of the modern Indian nation, will be perhaps donning the proto-image of Chandragupta Maurya, picked up by Chanakya in 3rd century BC. But if not for the modern democracy of majoritarian principle of adult franchise, with a considerable OBC population who, no doubt have a longing for their representative being on the prime minister’s gaddi, even the idea of Modi as PM would not have been possible.
The BJP brought in a regional satrap, who combined within himself the combination of loha purush and vikas purush in the Gujarat context. In the Hinduyva arithmetic, a loha purush plus a vikas purush equals a virat purush.
That this OBC virat purush is elevated to the Bharat khanda stage, it is likely that he would show his vishwarup once he reaches the North block.Advani played the role of a modern Chanakya in picking Modi up. The Bharat bhoomi was sought to be ruled by Chanakya himself with a coronate Shudra king while guru himself remained the real prime minister in ancient times. However, he had to resign on the issue of mode of violence that Chandragupta needed to use vis-à-vis the rebelling tribal republics.
Now the guru had to resign to the life line of politics even before the shishya’s real coronation took place. It is here that the modern guru-shishyas differ from that of the ancient. Earlier the vikas purush had allowed the loha purush to play the role of his deputy but now Advani understood that Modi does not allow that. He turned the loha purush into Dronacharya on Ampashaya (bed of thorns at home). We must see how the drama unfolds in future.
That the BJP is a political wing of the Rastriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is well known. Ever since it was formed in 1980, having broken away from the Janata Party, it carefully guarded its Brahminic essence by keeping the national level leadership roles to upper castes, while granting minor, state level power roles to the OBC leaders, who were picked up and nurtured by Advani. The Jana Sangh group first opposed the constitution of the Mandal Commission when the Janata government constituted it and then it opposed its implementation by the V P Singh government. At that time Advani deployed a dangerous discourse of dislodging welfare process of constructing a ‘melting pot’ civil society using reservation as a tool of advancement of the underdogs. He and his followers were of the view that the caste question should be addressed through the discourse of cultural nationalism and social engineering. No OBC leader was allowed to speak in favour of reservation; Uma Bharati did that and paid a price. Modi and Shivraj Singh on the other hand followed the dictate. Therefore, they were allowed to rule the states. The RSS does not believe in social justice. That notion was/is known as foreign to India, where all asmithas of castes should not be allowed to coexist with that of democratic equality. Identities and vertical equality were seen as un-Indian.
In their ethos of India, all Indians must worship cow and follow vegetarian food culture as they are being forced to follow in Gujarat by Narendra Modi, with a slogan of Gujarat ki asmitha. Even plural food cultures are seen as West induced. Bharat mata is understood to be against anything ‘West’, more so the notion of socialism and equality. Modi is seen as a perfect OBC ruler, who understood this theory.
Though there are several contradictions between Modi and the core leadership of Sangh Parivar, he proved to be good in imposing Hindutva cultural ideology on Gujaratis by abolishing a discourse on caste and vegetarianism in that state. Having become an Indian modern Leviathan he worked out new definitions of secularism, culture and nationalism. He has already deployed a fantastic definition of secularism and what it should mean, ‘India First’, but not that the state should remain equi-distant to all religions. For him the idea of India is Hindu. There should not be any intellectual dispute on that issue. Of late, Advani was going away from that kind of position; therefore, he should be sidelined by all means.
No OBC, SC, ST politician or intellectual emerged from Gujarat in the recent past. Quite surprisingly he is the only tallest leader that emerged from that state after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. Both Gandhi and Patel never compromised in out beating their opponents and Modi too will not. Social justice was an irritant for them it is going to be more for Modi.
Modi’s Hindu India would be anti-reservationist. This is a policy with which most of the Hindutva forces are very uncomfortable. They do not see it as a policy of level playing field; they see it as divisive. Now that Nitish Kumar attacked the idea of Modi getting projected as an OBC leader the notion of plural and inclusive India in a framework that Ambedkar and Lohia constructed need to be reworked. For Modi the opposite idea of India comes from Vivekananda and Hindutva/Moditva forces do not touch Rammanohar Lohia with a barge pole.
The author is an Indian activist and writer