Politicization of religion in contemporary media: Highlighting national politics of Hindus in BJP government

The politicization of religion is not a new term to anyone. There exists a correlational relationship between religion and political means. Achieving your target using religion as a tool is simply the politicization of any religion and is a point from where religious conflicts emerged. Since the arrival of religion, the rulers are making their way out using the postulates of any religion. As it was stated in the times of clashes between Christians and Muslims in Spain it was an initiation of reforming religion and giving world a way to look from different perspectives towards religious implications and practical applications. Now shifting the paradigm towards the politics of contemporary world. One would vividly state that whatever the region is let it be Europe, America or Asia every place and state has and is using religion for their benefit. Citing an example of Indian state would be more appropriate as it is at present pursuing an ideology which is culminating towards politicization of religion at intra and inter state level. The Hinduism widely practised religion alongside Buddhism and Islam has been used against negative terminologies in modern day politics in India. The BJP government has been in power since 2014. The regime was able to convince local Hindus and uses religion to divert their thinking. It actually controls the hierarchical development going on for decades. Eventually, the technological advancements and improvement in modes of media will pave way for BJP to strengthen their politics in the name of religion. If remain in power it will continue to do the same by taking help from radical wing RSS whose ideology is practised widely in India as Hindutva.

India lies in a location  which is subject to many predictions. Looking at present time from historical perspectives it ultimately take anyone towards the roots causes which is cultural indifferences among the two very prominent factions the Hindus and Muslims alike. The political indifferences came later in effect as that of religious or cultural practices among masses due to lack of general awareness. But soon it was realized the majority will rule out minority it was a matter of grave concern for the Muslims. That was the basis for partition of subcontinent. But the level of grudge or hate never dies from the opponents. They still perceived each other as a threat to their ideology, existence and ultimately to their settlement in international arena. This is the reason the hard core realist nationalist Hindus are adopting such policies that will directly target their opponents using religion.  The majoritarian regime leader Modi is governing all the political and religious affairs. Within their social and cultural cast system it is also portraying division within same branch. The differentiation  is a matter taken up so seriously by the locals to address their grievances. So as a tactic the BJP is suppressing the voices of oppressors using extremist group RSS. As noted only major minority like Muslims is a bone of contention giving rise to escalate Kashmir conflict.

Hindutva is very much there in early 1900 and since it has always been politicised for personal gains. But during the rule of congress it did not appear at front line. Even though congress was also involved in raising and enhancing India’s economic status. This economic well being is also adopted by BJP. Though the political domains of congress and BJP were entirely different as their was a major class difference.  Since Modi regime came in power Hindutva starts projecting its power domain. Violence became an essential part of their strategies against minorities particularly towards Muslims as they perceived them to be their enemies.. Hindutva is followed by RSS which contradicts with Hinduism  the central theme of entire politics in mainland India.  RSS is basically an offshoot of Sangh parivaar and a right wing paramilitary organisation which is every where in India and countering all activities against anti RSS ideology. They want to establish India for Hindu nationals at massive scale. They are directly promoting Hindutva ideology in the name of Hindu community prosperity. The movement in Germany and Italy gives them enthusiasm to do something for their nation with the help of violence. Diversity and inclusivity should be removed from Indian soil ultimately bringing universality and uniformity in their value and structural system.

As discussed by Eviane Leidig in his paper that the fascist ideology of Nazi regime provide Hindus to flourish and drive Hindutva ideology ultimately introduce violence as an essential element of their hegemonic political framework. The inviting of Modi regime to redefine its political agenda and reintroduce the fascist organisation RSS through modification. Hindutva is not a concept of nation building or to promote national as argued. Rather it is manifesting and demonstrating ethno nationalistic approach. BJP is one root of RSS that is exercising power and that RSS is true nationalism( kalim Siddiqui). Hinduism represents the totality of thoughts experiences and insights of all major races (PDT Archary, 2014). Dr. Radhakrishnan, the renowned philosopher says, “Hinduism is an inheritance of thought and aspiration living and moving with the movement of life itself an inheritance to which every race in India has made its distinct and specific contribution.” The terrorist movement was blended with a nascent Hindu revivalism( Richard D. Lambert). In 1925 a Maharashtrian Brahman founded RSS at Nagpur place to become a powerful striking arm in combating the Muslim political forces. That was in true essence the demand of this particular organisation. In earlier 20th century militant Hinduism was in full force.(Sir Percival Griffiths). It is again a matter of psyche as Anderson talks about how to form unity among masses by uniting them under the umbrella of religion, language and culture.

The topic can better be analysed through the lens of Realism. A theory developed to study role of states. But since it was more of a rationale one and that a state fights for its own interests. In this case we are analysing a unitary actor and its power politics. It accounts for inter relations. We are not focusing on intra state dynamics using realism. Its tools for examine state apparatus in international world should be used to determine internal dynamics as well. Since the clash of minorities always existed in Indian soil for any matter but might is right is always applicable. This applicability when combines with state interests will become a driving force to achieve your status. As noted Modi regime has never been held accountable for its injustices and atrocities. That is because of party power maximization and whatever is intended will be done. Violence and use of force to achieve targets has been utilised.

Secondly, looking at the dynamics of politics and the pattern followed widely the knowledge power relations as explained by power elites of society, ultimately shapes the nature of politics. Projecting your interests in terms of public interests has been done since decades by politicians.

Hinduism is an ancient religion and Hindutva is an ideology pursued by far right group and political party BJP following RSS that was primarily formed in 1925.Since 1990 BJP is exercising its power on the Indian land. However the winning of 2014 and 2019 election further strengthen their bond .The religion and political philosophy has been of paramount importance in Indian politics. The term Hinduism and Hindutva are contrasting at every phase and  yet the distinction is not achieved at ground level reality. Hinduism can be followed by all Hindus but Hindutva can’t be. The historical evidence as reported by the scholars defined during the tenure of British government introduced the term Hindutva to represent it as a culture so the amalgamation of all the religious group brings at a unity level. A challenge proposed by east West to counter their hegemonic rule.  For them the Hinduism is a subset of Hindutva. The religious oppression was an outcome of Hindutva. Their clash with Muslim who ruled over India. The Hindutva practitioner sees Gandhi not as a prime leader even his assassination was not dis regarded and Godse was exonerated. The Hindu resistance to entire Muslim rule was featuring RSS.

Although the Hindu  nationalism has been perceived as fascist as they also belongs to political philosophies not as religious affiliations. The nationalism of Hindus combines with role organization of RSS aimed at purifying and promoting the concept.  The formation of BJP has been come out as a result of this coalition. The contrast between Indian nationalism and that of Hindu nationalism greatly varies.  it lies in the contrast of religious revivalist and reform movements in different parts of India.

However in 2004 BJP was voted out of office and faced the Backlash but then the revival was seen in the Indian politics that ultimately formed the Mainstream politics. The economic growth was enhanced to block political motive that it hosts the morale of local Hindus but developing a sense of eradication deprivation and encounter grievance.. this policy was good in terms of modernization of ill structured society and arriving at a level with the globalists. The more better you are economically then financially the more your say will be favoured in different arena. It is the way to the commitment of Hindutva ideology as aright wing political party in the parliament. referring to its oppressive policies against the minorities the case study of abrogation of a special status of Kashmir is key example where the combined effect of RSS reference and Hindutva is finally merged with BJP execution of agenda. The details will be discussed in this paper along with references. Among the prominent leaders was one of Singh. He was considered as a reformist as he brings Hindutva very much in line with BJP linking it with RSS goals and principles. It is Hindutva which defines the India in terms of Hindu culture and values.  BJP ignites the politics of India by spreading hate for Muslims through every possible matter. How it politicised religion is evident through its speeches and marches for political gain by using Hindu God as an instrument to achieve that.

Analysis of Kashmir policies through the lens of media is important because it went through a lot since decades. At present it is suffering a lot due to political amendments in polices as per the will of BJP politicians in parallel to RSS .when it comes to the politics of religion Indian media is of major help. let it be any case but the Perks and  privileges obtained by them is beyond explanation. Projecting narratives of political leaders while interpreting religion has been a tool for politician and state runners. Spreading and expansion of land marketing of anti Hindus has been supported under the umbrella of religion.. although the legitimacy of religions is not directly explained but manipulation do exists. the method of governance and strategies being adopted can provide a perfect platform for demonstration of such ideas. Modi regime is trying to redefine and revive the concept of oneself do identity as a state and nation gradually bringing down and side lining the minorities of other religion.

 If this was not the age of technology then for sure there will be no update or coverage of this issue worldwide. it is playing its role in both positive or negative manner. In Indian state the media is in control of government institutions.. the year 2019 was of paramount importance in Indian history of BJP as they divided, abrogate and breach Indian constitution by removing special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although on political grounds the BJP didn’t follow the constitutional procedures but initiate another debate on the way towards success by the media. They succeed in bringing humanity at stake and  taking back all the basic necessities that was used as tactics to unite Hindu nationalist and pleased RSS activists. the media highlights this very aspect in a way as what seem to be the narratives of BJP leaders in a  very nicely manner and communicate it with each other and even by being biased in nature  When reporting about Hindutva agenda and Activities of RSS activists.  it is one of the ultimate agenda of Hindus of BJP.

. Looking at present and predicting future is inviting more hatred among hard-core  realist Hindus against all minorities. The execution of such policies that will promote violence will remain part of politics in India as all forms of exploitation of religion will appear on screen. the mode of advancement will be highlighted by state controlled media and will flourish Hindutva. The minds of people will be controlled by projecting policies that will promote public interest and demand. Having hold on public is like you will be in power possession until general public satisfaction is achieved. It is only BJP regime that will promote the cause of Hindutva at a much larger scale with media and religion exploitation as an only approach.

Misbah Abidin
Misbah Abidin
Student of bachelor at National Defence University Islamabad.