The Shah of cold control
With the anointment of Amit Shah as the national president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi has consolidated his grip on his party. It is a fact that Modi’s emergence as the top leader of his party was not uncontested. He had to face a lot of opposition and resistance from within his own party to emerge as the prime ministerial candidate of National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Many people seen supporting him were in fact helping him only to make use of his popularity for electoral gain and they would have ditched him, had NDA and BJP not got the majority in parliament.
With the stunning win of BJP and NDA, his adversaries in his party and RSS are down, but we cannot say that they have also got decimated completely. Modi knows that his leadership may not be challenged in the near future, but his policies and priorities in running the government may attract the flak of his party and RSS leaders, and to thwart and face such situation he has chosen a man of his choice to lead the party.
Modi is the creation of RSS. That is why a perception is there that there may not be any ideological conflict between him and his RSS family. But it is also a fact that RSS has diluted its ideology significantly to get political clout. For secular ideologues RSS is a communal organisation, which tries to mobilise the support of majority Hindus on anti-Muslim planks. For Ambedkarites, RSS is a party of Brahmanical Social Order, which is based on the hatred towards majority of so called SC, STs and OBCs.
If the BJP has failed to garner the support of Hindus, despite claiming to be a Hindutwa party, it is because of the Ambdekarite perception of its being pro-Brahmanical Social Order party. Particularly in Hindi heartland of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand if it could not prosper for long, it was the stigma of it being an upper caste party attached with it.
With the projection of Modi as its PM candidate and making his caste background as an issue, it was successful in attracting the most numerous OBCs voters towards it and got the unprecedented success in the Hindi heartland. An Ambedkarite would say that it was mere an opportunistic politics of RSS and BJP to harp on the caste background of Modi and it continues to be a party of Brahmanical Social Order, in which the majority is always kept humiliated and suppressed.
Hailing from a suppressed OBC caste and at the same time a product of RSS, make the personality of Modi complex. Even today, RSS intellectuals can be seen boasting of the Hindu caste system and praising it for saving Hinduism from the onslaught of Islam and later Christianity. They fail to understand that those who got humiliated under the caste system are not ready to buy that line. Modi himself belonged to a caste, which has been immensely persecuted under the caste order and his caste of oilmen (Teli) were dubbed unsightable throughout India. Hence election of Modi as prime minister of India also indicates the downfall of this caste order. In his campaign, Modi did not utter a word against Muslims, but he said it repeatedly that SCs and OBCs are the future of India. The question being asked is ‘will the Brahmanical Social Order get strengthened under him or will it see its further fall?’. Political opportunism has forced RSS and BJP to dilute its ideology, will its ideology further get compromised after getting power or with power at its hand, it will strengthen its ideology?
Here the role of Modi becomes most important, because he is the man wielding power and RSS has to operate power through him. RSS can do it from many ways and one of those ways is the Party presidency. If the party president dances to the tune of RSS, it becomes easier for it to influence the prime minister. But Modi did not like it and hence there is a person of his choice as the party president. The stunning victory of the BJP is the result of both caste and communal reasons. There was a time, when the Ram Mandir movement of BJP was being thwarted with the help of creating caste rifts among Hindus with the Mandal movement. In this election, both castist and communal factors helped BJP. Caste leaders of Mandal era like Mulayam, Mayawati, Lalu and Nitish could not pose problems for BJP, because they themselves have become the sectarian leaders of their individual castes and enjoy no support outside them.
If Modi needs continue to be the PM for long, he has to ensure the pre Lok Sabha sentiments to become a permanent feature. Modi himself and Amit Shah have images which give pleasure to those Hindus, who have certain kind of anti-Muslim feelings for right or wrong reasons. Now what these two leaders would like to do is to change the character of the BJP by recruiting members from those sections of Hindus, who used to be against RSS because of its elite ideology. Any change in the character of BJP by Modi and Amit Shah is bound to create resistance from among the established BJP leaders. For political expediency, RSS may dilute its ideology, but it would resist the change in the social profile of top leaders of BJP. Hence the conflict is inevitable.
The Hindutwa ideology of RSS smacks of feudalism. In fact, feudalism is still dominant in India and its institutions are yet to shed the feudal tendency. The capitalist open market approach of Modi is bound to usher in the era of a conflict between feudalism and capitalism. Caste is a feudal institution, which came into existence in medieval period due to feudal warfare. Any attachment with it is the attachment with feudalism.
Few people know that Amit Shah’s first electoral encounter was in the election of a cooperative society of a bank, where he was faced with the dominant Patels, Gaderia and Kshatriyas, who used to succeed because of their caste clout. Amit Shah, without the caste clout of his own defeated them. He could do that with the help of marginalised caste groups. We can see Amit Shah and Modi consolidating the support of marginalised castes. This may bring them in conflict with the leaders of the dominant castes of all hues – whether they are SC, ST, OBC or upper castes.
Thus the battle lines are drawn in BJP and RSS leaderships.