Modi’s Rise To Power Was Fuelled By BJP’s RSS Roots And The Hindutva Narrative

After the grand victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, India also witnessed a presidential style oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other cabinet members. While the speculation of Cabinet allocations was still on, the oath-taking ceremony had many takeaways and messages which should be decoded.

The Rise Of The RSS In 1925

I believe the NaMo 2.0 government was the ultimate goal of this Hindu Nationalist party BJP which was established in the year 1980 after the Janata Party was dissolved. In 1984, the BJP contested its first election and won only two seats. Looking back at history, in the year 1951, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee formed the Bharatiya Jana Sangh which after the emergency merged with the Janata Party and several other parties, but by 1980, the Janata Party was dissolved.

The BJP reflects the ideology of a non-political organisation which is known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS was formed in the year 1925 by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgevar. The motto of the RSS was to consolidate the Hindus and train them. Hedgevar after the formation of the RSS never participated in any anti-British activity, therefore, the RSS was not part of the freedom movement. In early life, Hedgevar was part of the Home rule movement which was certainly anti-British and led by freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

The ideology of the RSS is based on the philosophy of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is popularly known as Veer Savarkar. He was part of the Hindu Mahasabha and worked on popularising Hindutva. According to history, Savarkar opposed the Quit India movement of 1942.

By now, it must be clear that BJP is the party that carried forward Savarkar’s idea to create a Hindu Rashtra; this was not possible during India’s independence struggle because the RSS was not a political organisation and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had very little power. After the demolition of the Babri Masjid in the year, 1992 for the first time, the BJP, with the ideology of Hindutva came to the forefront.

They presented a virulent history where they showed that the Muslim invaders of India devastated the country and demolished the Hindu structures and lives. Thereafter in 1996, the BJP formed the government but it stayed in power for only 13 days. In 1998, the BJP formed a coalition with various other parties and formed the government in the center led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee; that government was in place for one year and eventually there was another election in which a coalition government won. Vajpayee became the PM and stayed in office for the full term.

Since it was a coalition government, the parties found common ground and did not get the chance to spread the Hindutva ideology above everything else.

The Blue-eyed Boy Of The RSS

Narendra Modi was the blue-eyed boy of the RSS. He left his house to become a ‘pracharak’ (someone who works full time for the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organisation in India) like many others. But, Modi had charisma. He was appointed as the state coordinator of Gujarat to organise the Ram Rath Yatra held by Lal Krishna Advani. He performed the work successfully and also took part in the Ram Janmabhumi movement.

The RSS realized the strength and the leadership quality of this man and reportedly communicated the same to LK Advani, thereafter Advani in the backdrop started working to develop Modi into a politician. Later, he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The RSS realized that Modi was the hope for the Sangh Parivar and that he could play a significant role in establishing Savarkar’s ideology. It was not an easy task in India but the RSS also realized that the coddling of minorities by the Congress would backfire and that would be the moment to establish Hindutva. The UPA government led by the Congress party became weaker by the day and the 2014 election was a final blow to them. The BJP and RSS realized that this was the best time to launch Modi as the face for India’s future leadership, especially as the people were losing faith in the Congress party.

In 2014, riding the anti-Congress wave and with their movement against corruption, the BJP created the Modi wave which was fuelled by the people’s anger against the Congress regime. Modi got a majority and formed a very strong government but the ultimate goals were yet to be achieved.

Modi 2.0 And The Ultimate Goal

Before the 2019 election, many of the Indian people were angry at their leader because of the state of the economy and unemployment, but unfortunately, the Opposition remained divided and Modi was able to turn the nation’s attention away from real issues. The BJP campaign narrative focused on national security. The Balakot air strike and Pulwama attack made his narrative stronger. In the backdrop, Amit Shah and RSS did their groundwork.

After the humongous win of the party in the recent elections, breaking all records, Modi reached the top again and realized that this was the time to flaunt the BJP and its Hindutva ideology . He gave the top three cabinets to the people who have been BJP presidents; Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari. By bringing Shah to the forefront, he made it clear that the grassroots narrative of Hindutva should come in the limelight and that this was the ultimate goal of the BJP.

Modi also gave power to Pratap Chandra Sarangi an MP from Odisha which I believe was a smart trick on his part. The media welcomed the man but seemed to forget about his questionable past. Mishra is from the Bajrang Dal and he was the state coordinator of Bajrang Dal at the time when Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two sons were killed in Orissa’s Keonjhar district on January 22, 1999. Bajrang Dal members were believed to be behind these murders.

“The Commission had justified its non-examination of the role of the Bajrang Dal on the ground that it was not an illegal organisation, suggesting thereby that legal organisations cannot plan and execute such awful crimes. It simply accepted the testimony of the State coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, in which he denied any Bajrang Dal role in the killings, without cross-examining him. The Commission concluded that the motive for the crime was to express one’s anger against the conversions of poor and illiterate tribal people to Christianity. But its finding that these conversions were not necessarily inspired by Staines caused doubts about the validity of this factor as the possible motive,” noted an article in Frontline magazine in the year 2000.

Referenced from: ‘Narendra Modi: A Political Biography‘ – Andy Marino

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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