20 January 2009

The Right-Wing Movement

In May 2007 Swapan Dasgupta wrote an insightful article about the state of the right-wing movement in India. What he said is relevant even today:

"After it first tasted power at the Centre in 1998, the BJP leadership went out of its way to acquire social respectability and shed its outlander status. Dispelling all fears of India being turned into a Hindu fascist state, the Vajpayee Government moulded itself as a conventional Right-of-centre regime.

Looking back, the NDA Government's tenure was marked by many missed opportunities. To my mind, two are particularly glaring. First, in focussing on the co-option of an establishment that had been nurtured by the Congress over five decades, the BJP lost sight of the need to craft a counter-establishment.

Second, in attempting to forge an elusive consensus, the BJP proved incapable of grasping the simple truth that compromises were being made by only one side. The BJP owed its spectacular growth after 1989 to its willingness to question the fundamentals of the great Nehruvian consensus. When it abandoned this combativeness for short-term respectability, it lost momentum.

In the process, the project of evolving a robust, intellectually vibrant Right-wing tradition also fell by the wayside. The Indian Right still awaits its moment."

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