Hindu Nationalists in India: The Rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party

Hindu Nationalists in India: The Rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party

Hindu Nationalists in India: The Rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party

Hindu Nationalists in India: The Rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party

Synopsis

Yogendra Malik is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Akron.

Excerpt

The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with its emphasis on Hindu nationalism, at the center stage of Indian politics has raised questions about the validity of the secular nationalist ideology which has been the foundation of the Indian state since its independence. The party's rise has also led to heated debate among the politicians and intellectuals about the nature and functions of the Indian state as well as the basis of Indian national identity. The question has even been asked whether the Indian state, as it has been known since its independence, will survive if the BJP comes to power and implements its ideology. The prospect of its coming to power generates strong emotions, creates fear, and raises alarm both inside and outside of India.

We intend to explain the ideological basis of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the context of the evolution of the different versions of nationalism in India, the origin and development of the party, the strategies of its leadership to capture political power, its programs and policies, and its organizational structure. In order to assess its place in Indian politics, we will analyze the circumstances which have led to its emergence as a major contender for political power. In short, we intend to provide an academic analysis of the BJP and what it represents in contemporary Indian politics.

The Ideological Context of Indian Politics

In order to understand the nature of the BJP, it is essential to describe the various dimensions of the ideological basis of Indian politics. Political scientists differ in their definition of ideologies. We believe, however, that in all societies there develop certain patterns of thoughts, norms of behavior, and beliefs concerning the nature of the state, the basis of political authority, and the goals of the government. Such a collection of . . .

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