Opinion, Politics

The OPS, EPS, VKS drama in Chennai

This article appeared first on Rightlog.in on April 24, 2017 under the title: “3 conditions laid down by the OPS camp that are making the EPS camp jittery”

OPS, EPS, and VKS the main dramatis personae in the never-ending soap opera being played out in Tamil Nadu have been involved in so many twists, turns, and intrigue that most political commentators have found it difficult to stick their neck out and predict what might happen next in Tamil Nadu. What is however quite clear is, that in all of this the biggest casualties have been governance and democracy. Like someone said:

OPS, EPS, and VKS have ensured that in TN governance and democracy are presently on UPS”

Late J. Jayalalithaa who ran the party with an iron hand and brooked no opposition however is guilty of having hamstrung the party by not grooming a second rung leadership or at least naming a successor. VK Sasikala (VKS) has no credentials other than having been Jaya’s friend and personal assistant. O. Pannerselvam (OPS) owed his brief time as CM to Jaya’s largesse. He knew he was merely a placeholder, keeping the seat warm till Amma came back from her incarceration in Bengaluru. Although he initially emerged as a consensus candidate as CM soon after Jaya’s demise he was soon shunted out by the VKS faction who felt he wasn’t “pliant” enough for their liking particularly after VKS realized post her arrest that she wouldn’t be able to control OPS from her prison cell in Bengaluru.

The present incumbent Edapadi Palaniswami (EPS) who was installed by VKS after an unceremonious coup that led to OPS being shown the door was thought to be a loyalist of the Manargudi Mafia (as VKS and her extended family are known in TN) and to his credit he did stick to the script by accepting TTV Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary of the AIADMK a post created specifically to ensure that VKS could remote control the party and the government from her “prison-office”.

However a series of events have led to the present impasse – First, the electoral poll panel repealed the RK Nagar assembly polls when it emerged that TTV Dinakaran allegedly tried to bribe the voters and influence the verdict. The second blow was the EC bribery case against Dinakaran followed immediately by an ED court framing charges against him in a financial irregularity case dating back to some 20 years. As soon as EPS realized that Dinakaran would be caught up in long protracted court cases he allegedly engineered a faction within the party to rebel against VKS and Dinakaran along with sending out feelers to the OPS faction in a possible attempt at a merger ostensibly because that would mean they would be able to regain the iconic “Two-leaf” election symbol of the AIADMK.

Several rounds of talks between the two factions has led to nothing more than a stalemate as both factions are reluctant to give up on their individual stands and if latest reports are to be believed have struck intractable notes in their talks and any forward movement will be possible only if one or both factions give-in or be ready to make a few concessions to the other.

 The OPS camp is clear that their leader has to be made the CM. Their arguments in favour of this include OPS having held that position twice before and his relatively better track record compared to EPS who has had a lackluster start to his CM-ship. If unverified reports from officials and “people-in-the-know” are to be believed EPS was reluctant to take any decisions on his own and often deferred to Dinakaran and consulted him before coming to any conclusion. Further, his refusal to take questions and his poorly constructed replies in the Assembly during this budget session has won him no supporters.

OPS also clearly owns the moral high ground as was evident from how people welcomed him with genuine warmth during campaigning for the now recalled RK Nagar by-election.

The OPS camp has also laid down 3 specific conditions all of which that have not gone down well with the EPS faction. These include:

  1. Formal expulsion of Sasikala, Dinakaran and thirty other members of the extended Manargudi family from the party. Although the EPS camp did announce expulsion of VKS and Dinakaran from the party, the OPS camp is insisting on a formal party note that legalizes this expulsion
  2. CBI probe into the death of former CM J. Jayalalitha specifically relating to the events leading up to her admission into Apollo and what transpired inside the hospital premises and the ICU.
  3. Withdrawal of the affidavits submitted to the Election Commission declaring Sasikala and Dinakaran as party general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively.

In addition to the above conditions unconfirmed reports have also hinted at the OPS camp wanting to take over the three key posts within the party and the government – Chief Minister, Party General Secretary and Presidium chairman with EPS getting the post of the Deputy Chief Minister. This has clearly miffed the EPS camp. An EPS faction insider had this to say about the OPS demand – “Have you heard anywhere about the party in government with 122 lawmakers merging with a party with eleven MLAs?” Clearly for the EPS camp this is also becoming an ego issue.

Then there is also the caste angle – OPS belongs to the influential “Thevar” community and EPS to the equally influential “Gounder” community. Both communities have for long been pillars of support for the AIADMK particularly in Southern and Western Tamil Nadu. Replacing a Gounder with a Thevar now may not go down well with the former community and could seriously impact the election fortunes of the AIADMK.

Finally if reports are to be believed VKS still has the support of at least 25 to 30 members within the AIADMK most of them family members and/or loyalists who are actively working to ensure that this attempt at a merger fails.

As this intriguing game of chess is played out on the chequered political landscape of Tamil Nadu no clear answers are emerging. However for Sasikala and her extended Manargudi family these are desperate times. Knowing her amazing survival instincts what can be predicted with certainty however is that while she may well be on her last limb she is definitely not going down without a fight.

Culture, Opinion, Politics

Why the abominable practice of Triple Talaq has to go

This article first appeared on April 18, 2017 at Rightlog.in and was published under the title: “Yogi Adityanath’s powerful message to supporters of Triple Talaq” The original article is available here: (Click to read)

The year was 1966, April 18 and Meherunissa Dalwai was 35 years old, pregnant with her second child when she marched along with her husband Hamid Dalwai and six other women down to the Mantralaya building in Mumbai (Bombay then) in a symbolic protest against the discriminatory practice of Tripe Talaq. 51 years later Meherunissa Dalwai is 86 years old and rues the fact that this practice is still prevalent in 21st century India. What is worse is that it has morphed into an even more abominable “Instant-Triple-Talaq” that can be delivered via SMS, WhatsApp, and email. Meherunissa will be recreating this symbolic protest on April 18, 2017 urging PM Modi to put an end to this discriminatory practice that has rendered several Muslim women homeless and penniless.

In a blatantly insensitive comment akin to rubbing salt into open wounds AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) general secretary Maulana Wali Rahmani reiterated that “instant Talaq may be wrong but valid” According to him not only was it valid, but conveying it via mobile phone was also valid.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s comment equating the silence of the majority with the few who practice Triple Talaq must be therefore viewed in this context – what he has said highlights not just the entrenched position of the AIMPLB but also calls into question the hypocrisy of those who want the courts to decide on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue but will not submit this abominable practice to the scrutiny of the law of the land.

The reality in India is that the situation for Muslim women is getting only grimmer not better. Reports of marital abuse, random Triple Talaq delivered via SMS and WhatsApp, instances of forced Halala (when reconciliation is attempted) and polygamy are beginning to appear more frequently as Muslim women break out of their veils and start questioning the legality of not just this practice but also the authority of a regressive body like the AIMPLB.

Yogi Adityanath’s statement about Triple Talaq is morally and ethically sound and he has thrown open this debate in a way few politicians current or past have made bold to do (with the exception of Arif Mohammed Khan who quit the Rajiv Gandhi government and the Congress in protest against the Shah Bano case).

PM Modi himself has been emboldened by this to come out in the open with his views on the subject, calling for an equitable and just law that protects the rights of the Muslim women as a citizen of India and not be treated as a member of a religious sect. It is heartening to see an elected government actually make the right noises in public and also in the courts unlike the Rajiv Gandhi Government of 1984 which used its mammoth majority to overturn a Supreme Court judgement in the infamous Shah Bano alimony case.

While the moral and ethical arguments are on solid ground what is the legal and constitutional position? Is a ban on Triple Talaq legally tenable? This is particularly important when we see how vested interests from within the Muslim community including politicians like Asaduddin Owaissi quote the law and the constitution to claim immunity.

Article 15 of the constitution is often quoted to buttress the argument – “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of Religion, Race, caste, Sex, or place of birth”. However this article needs to be read along with Article 15(3) which states “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making special provision for women and Children” (bold for emphasis).

Article 25 states “Every individual is equally entitled to freedom of conscience” and the right to “profess, practice, and propagate religion of one’s choice” with the caveat however that the article does not restrict the government from making any law in order to “regulate economic, financial, political, or other secular activities” (bold for emphasis)

Most importantly Article-14 of the constitution which guarantees “Right to Equality” states “…equality before the law and equal protection against discrimination within the territory of India…” (bold for emphasis) and prohibits discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Caste
  • Sex
  • Place of birth

Article 14 therefore should override both articles 15 and 25. Further, when Article 15 is read along with 15(3) and Article 25 with its caveats; it is clear that the constitution provides the State with the authority to intervene and make the necessary changes to ensure equality and justice to all citizens of the country irrespective of their religion, or sex (as in this case).

Also the AIMPLB is neither a legal body nor does it have any authority under the law. It is merely a private non-governmental body established in 1973 with the sole purpose of “implementing and protecting Islamic sharia law in India” One of its stated objectives is to “adopt suitable strategies for protection and continued application of the Islamic code of Shariat” (bold for emphasis) – Is this the body that will be allowed to wield power and make laws in a democratic country?

The questions every right-meaning citizen of India must ask are these:

  1. What is the need for a body as regressive as the AIMPLB in a modern, 21st century India?
  2. Why should one community alone not be subject to the laws of the country and should the laws not be applicable equally to all citizens irrespective of the religion they profess?
  3. Why should Muslim women alone be denied what other women in India enjoy?
  4. When Article-14 of the constitution guarantees equality to all why have successive governments shied away from implementing the law?
  5. When more than 20 Islamic countries around the world have either banned or amended Triple Talaq why is it being supported in a modern, pluralistic, democratic, secular India?

Yogi Adityanath may have put forward a moral and ethical argument for the abolition of Triple Talaq – He is not only right morally and ethically but he is also fully justified in asking for the abolition both under the constitution and the rule of the land. It is time for the government and the Courts to make the right judgement and put the AIMPLB in its place.

Opinion, Politics

The rise of the BJP in West Bengal

This article first appeared on April 16, 2017 at Rightlog.in and was published under the title: “Mamata used to be super-confident about her victory, not anymore” The original article is available here: (Click to read)

The Kanthi Dakshin by-poll result in West Bengal is significant in more ways than one. While the result itself followed the script in the sense that Mamata and the TMC won with a landslide and in fact with an increased vote-share percentage, the performance of the BJP and its candidate SourindraMohon Jana came as a surprise to political commentators and as a jolt to the TMC and more particularly the Congress and CPI (M).

The numbers tell the story – The TMC candidate and former minister Chandrima Bhattacharya won the seat with 95,369 votes. The BJP candidate, SourindraMohon Jana, came second with a whopping 52,843 votes, 32% vote-share and a 22% increase in vote-share (over the BJP vote-share the previous year). Both the Left and Congress were decimated with both candidates losing their deposits. The Congress candidate got only 2,270 votes, an all-time low. So did, the CPI (M) with just 17,423 votes.

In the 2016 election, the TMC got 93,353 votes, the BJP 15,223 and Left Front (the congress and the left fought the election jointly under an alliance) 59,469 votes in this constituency. In 2017, the Congress and the CPI-M fought on their own and against each other as well.

A dispassionate analysis of this by-poll brings out the following key points:

  1. There has been no erosion in the TMC vote-share. In fact, the TMC has managed to increase its vote-share by 2% over last year
  2. The BJP has increased its vote-share by a whopping 22% to leapfrog over the Congress and the left to become the second largest party and gain the mantle of the leading opposition to the hegemony of TMC in West Bengal
  3. The left and the Congress have been reduced to fringe players with candidates of both parties losing their deposits.
  4. The Congress without the Left has been reduced to a paltry 2,270 votes
  5. Interestingly the BJP has not been able to make any dent in the TMC vote-share – the BJP has gained at the expense of the Left and the Congress – what has happened is a vote-transfer from the Left and the Congress to the BJP.
  6. The Modi-factor which was in play in this assembly election has managed to decimate the Left and the Congress (both national parties) but has not managed to eat into the TMC and the Mamata-wave highlighting that in State elections while national leaders can swing votes, the need for a strong regional satrap is crucial.
  7. Mamata and her brand of minority appeasement has led to the first stage of Hindu consolidation that has led to a swing away from the Left and the Congress and in favour of the BJP – an indication that the electorate believes that it is the BJP alone that would be able to safeguard the interests of the Hindu majority
  8. The TMC has managed to retain almost the entire Muslim vote bank (estimated to be at 30% in West Bengal) and this en-bloc vote share along with the votes of those sections of the population that remains entrenched in the Leftist-liberal ideology has managed to keep the TMC unscathed for now.

In the Table below we provide a snapshot of how the West Bengal elections have played out over the period 2011 through 2017 (starting from when Mamata broke the Left stranglehold on West Bengal). It is interesting to note that both in 2011 and 2016 it is only the TMC and the BJP that have similar vote share percentages for both parameters measured: Average state-wide share of vote percentage (the first number shown in the table against that row) versus the vote-share percentage measured only in those seats/constituencies that the party has contested in (the second number shown in the table). This could reflect two things:

  1. It is only the TMC and BJP that have been able to garner support across the state while the Left and the Congress are slowly getting squeezed out of large parts of West Bengal and have to rely on pockets
  2. It could be a reflection of seat-sharing adjustments

Either way the writing is clearly on the wall for both the Left and the Congress in West Bengal.

Year Poll Vote Percentage (%) Modi Factor
2011* Assembly 4.06% 38.93% 30.08% 9.09% NA
4.14% 50.15% 41.39% 42.67%
2014 Lok Sabha 16.93% 40% 22% 9% High
2016* Assembly 10.16% 44.91% 19.75% 12.25% Medium
10.28% 45.18% 38.4% 40.37%
2017 Assembly by-polls 32% 55% 10% 1.3% High
2016 Kanthi Dakshin constituency Assembly polls 8.75% 53.7% 34.2% Medium

Notes on Table:

  1. *2011 and 2016 vote percentage data gives two numbers – The first number is the vote percentage obtained by a party across the state and the second number reflects the vote percentage obtained by a party in the seats contested by the party.
  2. Data from Table is primarily obtained from the Election Commission data/report available online.
  3. In 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP and the CPI-M were in alliance – this explains the apparent discrepancy in vote share percentage numbers and actually reflects the vote-share of each party in only the seats they contested
  4. NA = Not applicable

Now coming to the BJP – what does this result signify? It shows that they have managed to capture the imagination of a section of the Hindu population who are disgusted with the kind of partisan politics being practiced by Mamata and the TMC and the silence of the Left and the Congress and have therefore shifted their allegiance from the Left and the Congress to the BJP. However, the BJP must look at why they have still not been able to make a dent into the TMC’s core constituency – the left Bhadralok (who have decisively switched allegiance to the TMC from the Left) and the Muslims.

As for the TMC and Mamata – should they be worried about the rise of the BJP? The answer is a resounding “Yes” – Mamata being the shrewd politician she is, has already realized this as can be seen from her recent tweets on Ram-Navami.

However, she will continue to be hamstrung by her need to cater to her core Muslim constituency as can be seen by her silence on the brutal police crackdown on Hanuman Jayanti celebrations.

In the two years leading up to the Lok Sabha elections followed by the assembly elections we should expect greater Hindu consolidation around the BJP. If the next elections are a four-cornered fight with the Congress and the Left fighting the elections separately we should expect the Left and the Congress to be decimated and the contests being reduced to a straight fight between the TMC and the BJP.

However, for the BJP to be a greater force to reckon with in the future, vote-share percentages alone will not suffice particularly in our political system of “First past the post”. It would require:

  1. A greater consolidation of Hindu votes around the BJP
  2. Anti-incumbency against and disenchantment with appeasement politics of the TMC
  3. Desire of the electorate to become part of the mainstream and align with a party that can represent the State’s interests at the state and centre and importantly be less confrontational in its attitude towards the dispensation at the centre.

While making predictions in politics is always fraught with danger what can be however said with certainty is that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will truly be a watershed election more so than the 2014 elections. As someone said, “We truly are living in interesting times”


Culture, History, Religion

The Vedas, Vedangas, Upangas, and Upavedas – An introduction (The Vedas-2)

In the previous post on the Vedas we looked at how the vedas were “Apourusheyam” (Read here) i.e not the revelations of one prophet or messiah but rather timeless truths that have no single authorship and that the Vedas are the fundamental books of Sanatana Dharma – all other books and commentaries like the Bhagavad Gita etc. are merely commentaries or at best derivatives of the vedas. In this post we look at the 18 sub-divisions of the Veda (Referred to as the Vidya Sthanas).

It is often the practice to call all of these under one name – “Dharma Shastras” because they are repositories of both Vidya (Knowledge) and Dharma (Codes of right conduct). In the chart below I have made an attempt to depict the Vedas and their subdivisions in a single chart:

Veda-vidyastahnasIn discussing the Vedas, one often talks of the Veda-Purusha or Veda-Maata – i.e. the personification of the Vedas in terms of the human body. In Sanatana Dharma the use of the body to explain dharmic and scientific concepts is an established practice – Thus you have the “Vastu-Purusha” for example. The Temples of Sanatana Dharma are also symbolic expressions of the human body with the consecrated deity representing the Atman or Soul (being a part of and derived from the Universal Paramatman/Consciousness).

The table below shows the six (6) vedangas of the Vedas and their purpose/purport:

Vedangas Represented by/as Purport
Shiksha Nose The life-breath of the Vedas
Vyakarana Mouth Sound (Grammar)
Chandas Feet Metric Composition Refers to the
Nirutta Ears Vedic Dictionary. Presents the true meaning of each word.
Jyotisha Eyes Astronomy and Astrology.
Kalpa Hands Action. Induce one to action

More about the Vedas and the Vedangas in the subsequent posts

Culture, History, Religion

The Vedas are the authoritative texts of Sanatana Dharma (1)

What is the authoritative book on which your religion is based? If this question was posed to a Christian, he/she would say “The Bible”, a muslim “The Koran”; a parsi “The Zend Avesta”; a Buddhist “The Dhammapada”; a Jew probably “The Torah” or “The Tanakh” or “The Hebrew Bible”; a Sikh “The Granth Sahib”

If we were to pose this question to a practitioner of Sanatana Dharma (erroneously referred to as the Hindus) what would his/her answer be? In all probability we would not receive one standard answer – some would say Bhagavad Gita, someone else the Ramayana, someone the Upanishads and so on.

The reason for this is very simple – Sanatana Dharma is the only religion in the world where parents of children do not provide even a basic foundation or grounding in the tenets and principles of their own “Dharma”. I choose not to use the word religion because the word does not capture the true essence of Sanatana Dharma – This “Dharma” was, is, and never will be a religion

Religion means rituals whereas “Dharma” refers to those principles one must follow in life to be CONTENTED and HAPPY. This is probably the reason why even the Supreme Court of India observed that Hinduism is a way of life. This is one major difference between Sanatana Dharma and all other religions.

Besides this, there is one other major difference between Sanatana Dharma and all other religions – All other religions are “Pourusheyam” i.e. “Revealed Texts” – there is one founder or Prophet, or Saint whose commandments form the core of that religion’s beliefs, principles, and practices. Sanatana Dharma however is “Apourusheyam” i.e. not revealed by any one “purusha” or human being – they are timeless, limitless “Truths” that have existed before the time of creation itself and will do so forever.

Therefore, if one were to look for a book or rather a single source of authority in the ocean of Sanatana Dharma then one must look for a book that is truly “Dharma-Pramana” (that which establishes the TRUTH). If this be the criterion, then the Vedas alone pass muster – the Bhagavad Gita is but a small speck in the ocean of Sanatana Dharma – it derives from the Vedantas (Upanishads) and is not even a commentary on the vedas in their entirety.

The Kanchi Paramacharya Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi in the second volume of his “Deivathin Kural” (The voice of God) uses the two quotes below (in Tamizh) to establish what constitutes “The Vedas” (Translation appears below the image)


The Vedas are four (4) in number (Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva), then the six (6) Vedangas – angas or limbs or divisions of the vedas (more about each of these in subsequent posts), followed by Mimamsa (vedic interpretations), Nyaya (logic), Puranas (Mythology), and Dharmashastras (Codes of Conduct) making it Fourteen (14) in total. To these 14 may be added the 4 Upa-angas (ancillary limbs) namely Ayurveda (Science of Life), Artha-Shastra (Science of Wealth and Economics), Dhanur-Veda (Science of weapon-making and warfare) and Gandharva-Veda (Writings and treatises on the fine arts including music, dance, drama) bringing it to a grand total of 18 – these form the “Vidya-Sthanas” – “…that in which knowledge and wisdom are enshrined”

I will conclude this post with a beautiful conversation between Hanuman (representing the embodied Atman) and Rama (representing the Supreme Divinity – Paramatman) that appears in the beginning of the Muktiko-Upanishad of Sukla Yajurveda which epitomizes the great vastness of the Vedas…

Hanuman asks Rama: “Tell me Raghava, how many are the vedas, and how many their branches and how many the Upanishads?”

Rama replies: “The Vedas are four (4), their branches many and so also the Upanishads – The Rig Veda has 21 branches, the Yajur Veda 109, the Sama Veda a 1,000 and the Atharvana Veda 50 – each of these branches has its own Upanishad (Vedanta)…

Subsequent posts will look at other aspects of the Vedas.


  1. Deivathin Kural Volume-2; Vanathi Publications; 2016 edition/Reprint
  2. Thirty Minor Upanishads – Translated by K. Narayanaswmi Aiyar; 1914 edition. Printed by Annie Besant, Vasanta Press; Adayar; Madras.
Opinion, Politics

What is the need to equate Surya Namaskar with Namaaz?

This article first appeared in Rightlog.in under the title: “Dear Yogi ji, your secular statement was nice, but not required” on April 4, 2017 and can be read here: (Click to read)

The introduction of Yoga / Surya Namaskar into school curriculum has been talked about and even attempted earlier, even before the time of this present NDA regime. It has become controversial now primarily because the present dispensation in power is construed to be “Hindu Right-Wing” in its outlook. It is a different matter altogether that the present dispensation has done nothing that could be even remotely considered to be an overt push towards a “Hindu Right-Wing” agenda.

Recently, the CM of UP Yogi Adityanath in attempting to legitimize the introduction and practice of Surya Namaskar / Yoga suggested or rather made the equivalence that several postures of Surya Namaskar mirror those that are used in the Islamic practice of Namaaz.

The question we ask and debate is “Was this necessary and what is to be gained by making such a false equivalence?”

Svatmarama in his much celebrated work “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” says:


Loosely translated this Sanskrit couplet means

“My worshipful salutations to that Adi-Yogi, the Adinatha (Shiva) who was the first to teach the knowledge of the great science of Hatha Yoga – that yoga which when practiced (sincerely) by the (sincere) aspirant leads him/her up the staircase to the high pinnacles of Raja Yoga (Realization).”

From the above it is quite clear that there is absolutely no ambiguity with regard to either the antiquity or the origins of Yoga – It derives from the fountainhead of Sanaatana Dharma the Vedas themselves and its first exponent was Mahadeva himself and his first disciple his own wife Parvathi and has been passed on through generations with each generation having its own champion who kept the great tradition alive.

Recent well-meaning and perhaps naïve attempts by some Gurus to make Yoga universally acceptable by saying that it does not belong to Hindus and instead belongs to the world make the mistake of uprooting this ancient treasure house of knowledge from its roots – the roots of Yoga shall and must remain rooted to Hindustan, its branches and fruits can spread all over the world and everyone can partake of the gifts of these fruits – this is the essence and beauty of the Universality of Sanaatana Dharma.

Yoga belongs to every single person who is a Hindustani defined as a person who is born and brought up in this cultural milieu – here in Hindustan there are those that follow Sanaatana Dharma (the majority), those that follow Christianity, those that follow Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and so on – Yoga is bequeathed to each one and denied to none.

There is no need for anyone to be apologetic or make excuses in order that Yoga becomes more acceptable because each person born in Hindustan or India (whether they like it or not) is a Hindu. Both the words “Hindu” and “India” are purely geographical markers and are both derived from the same word “Sindhu” the former a Persian equivalent and the latter a Greek vulgarization of the Sindhu into first “Indus” and then “India”

It really should not matter to anyone be it from the political dispensation or from the religious arena if some from the minority community object to the introduction of Yoga and it is really not the business of these leaders to attempt a middle ground because there is no middle ground.

Yoga is inherently Hindu, there is no debating that but when everyone (again whether they like it or not) is Hindu if they have been born and brought up in this cultural and social milieu where is the question of forcing something that is “Hindu” on non-Hindus?”

Yogi Adityanath’s comment equating Surya Namaskar and Namaaz may have been well-intentioned but was unnecessary – it takes away from the inherent principle of Universality that is unique to Sanaatana Dharma and risks uprooting the fundamental basis of Yoga when no such attempt is called for given what we have outlined above.

Opinion, Politics

Consolidation of the Hindu Vote across India

This article first appeared in roghtlog.in under the title: “It is going to be a Hindu Vs Hindu fight after 70 years”. The original article is available at: (click here)

The recent election results in 5 states, where the BJP managed to come to power in 4 and the Congress in 1 could well be an indicator of voter fatigue with regional parties and their appeal on narrow regional, caste, and parochial lines and a precursor to the emergence of a pan Indian Virat Hindu/liberal Hindu identity.

The standard formula of regional parties and even the Congress, perfected over several years has been to divide the Hindu vote on the basis of caste fault lines and consolidate the minority vote-bank by playing up the narrative of Hindu/majority domination.

This twin strategy of “divide the majority” and “appease the minority” has worked successfully for the better part of seven decades since independence. Essentially, this formula worked by pushing an egregious form of secularism where the minorities (read Muslims) where handed out sops in the form of grants, permission to establish and run madrassas, cash handouts etc. to ensure they would vote en-bloc during elections, while the Hindu votes were fragmented and scattered along caste lines – in this formula development was never on the agenda, the goal was only to grab power. The Muslims remained poor and indebted to the doles being handed out and the Hindus disgruntled and divided.

However, the first signs of fissures in this strategy have started appearing and it looks like they will only widen further. In this article we examine three key reasons for this paradigm shift in Indian polity and the emergence of a pan-Indian Hindu identity and ethos:

  1. Consolidation of the Hindu vote: This has been happening steadily over the last decade and it is only now that it has started to reach the “tipping point” where the numbers are starting to matter. The Hindus have started to realize that if they do not bury their differences and get together they would have very little say in the politics of emerging India. The recent results in UP were a clear case of Hindu consolidation in response to blatant Muslim appeasement by the BSP and SP. The BSP fielded 99 Muslim candidates and the SP 59 hoping to woo the Muslim vote-bank monolith. The fact that the BJP won a landslide despite not fielding a single Muslim candidate even in some constituencies where Muslims form 30% of the population (which is more than the overall UP average of 20%) is a clear indicator of Hindu consolidation that blurred even the caste fault lines. The BJPs victory in Deoband with a 65% Muslim majority cannot be attributed to anything other than complete Hindu consolidation and fragmentation of the Muslim vote across SP and BSP. The 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, emergence of a strong Islamist ideology in Muzaffarnagar and nearby Deoband, and the forced exodus of Hindus from Muslim-majority Kairana have all contributed to Hindu consolidation. It is important to realize that this is not restricted to UP alone and is in fact a pan-India trend. Mamata Bannerji’s brand of communal politics that even sought to brush aside the Dhulagarh riots where Muslim mobs targeted Hindu homes and business establishments has led to Hindu consolidation across the East of India as is evident from the recent election results in Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. Even in West Bengal, the BJP’s vote percentage has steadily risen and one should expect it to reach tipping point soon if Mamata continues her brand of appeasement politics. We are seeing the same emerging in Kerala as well where for long the communists and Congress have shared the spoils between them but are now facing an emerging and strong Hindu backlash after years of minority appeasement and favoritism.
  2. Blurring of Caste lines amongst Hindus: Rapid urbanization, the steady flattening of economic disparities, social welfare schemes and empowerment that have ensured representation of the so called lower castes across the political spectrum has seen a steady rise in the economic, cultural, social, and political status of the once deprived classes. This has also coincided with a realization even amongst these social classes that their interests are best served by aligning themselves with the majority and also with parties that promise even-handed development for all as opposed to doles and handouts on narrow, sectarian lines. Further, the realization has dawned that the Hindus affected in Dulagarh, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar and in several other places have been those belonging to the lowest strata of society and not a single so called secular party has come to their rescue or even made perfunctory noises of support.
  3. Disaffection amongst sections of Muslim population: Sections of the Muslims have clearly decided that it is time for them to shun the appeasement politics practiced by the so called secular parties who while handing out doles have ensured that the Muslim population of India remains the most backward in terms of education, economic, and social development. Three clear trends are emerging here:
    1. Sections of the educated Muslims who have seen through the “secular” argument are leading the integration of the community into the mainstream.
    2. Those who are alarmed at the radicalization of Muslim youth influenced by Jihadi rhetoric and ISIS ideology are also lending voice to the change that is taking place.
    3. The Muslim women, for long subjugated by their menfolk and mullahs are emerging out of their veils asking for justice, equality, and abolishment of regressive practices like triple Talaq.

There are clear indications that in UP large sections of Muslim women did indeed vote for the BJP defying diktats from people within their own community.

These three trends clearly point towards an alignment of the Hindu community in India along two distinct lines – those who are “right-of-center” and those who are “center-right” the latter could be termed the “liberal-right” who were formerly aligned with the “secular-left” but have made the shift in recent times.

This trend will clearly mean that regional parties will have little say in the emerging India. Parties like AAP which base their survival on a narrow BJP-hate strategy will also be brushed aside as was evident in their rout in Goa and Punjab. The only other party that can offer resistance to the BJP is the Congress party. This is because despite their recent flop shows and consistent failures, the Congress is the only other party that can be called a party with a truly pan-Indian presence besides the BJP. However, for the Congress to be relevant they have to reinvent themselves and change their outlook towards the Hindu majority and shun their minority appeasement and work towards the politics of inclusion and true equality.

If this happens we will be looking at a true 2-party “Virat Hindu” “Liberal Hindu” polity that will usher in the much needed balance in the politics of new India.