Big Business: Illusions about Modi & Hindutva

Greater Kashmir

The growing assertiveness of the Hindutva forces and the brazen targeting of the minorities has begun to cause concern even among the big business and corporates

The last two weeks have seen various business organisations, editorials in the corporate media, and political commentators decrying the spate of communal activities and propaganda in the country. Under the Modi government, the RSS and its outfits are increasingly asserting the Hindutva agenda.

The latest has been the campaign to “reconvert” those who have left the Hindu fold. According to the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, this is not conversion but a ‘ghar wapasi’ and in his words, the return of `maal’ stolen by a thief. Along with this, the RSS outfits have embarked on an aggressive campaign to threaten anyone who espouses “non-Hindu” values. There are attacks on a Hindi film `PK’ which has made fun of godmen who hoodwink the people. Writers of books which question obscurantist and reactionary social practices are also targeted such as the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. The Hindu Mahasabha has begun a campaign to glorify Nathuram Godse and wants to put up statues in his honour.

The growing assertiveness of the Hindutva forces and the brazen targeting of the minorities has begun to cause concern even among the big business and corporates. The corporate media which represent their views has written editorials calling upon prime minister Narendra Modi to put an end to this communal propaganda. The Times of India editorial stated that these activities are “putting the government’s reform agenda at risk”. Therefore, “The prime minister must end this debate unequivocally”. The Hindustan Times editorial stated: “The fruits of development that prime minister Narendra Modi has promised will take some time to kick in, but we have reasons to be concerned about the deteriorating social climate in the meanwhile”. The editorial demanded that “The Modi government must act decisively to stop the celebration of Nathuram Godse”.

If the corporate media is worried, the Chambers of Commerce have also echoed this concern. The new FICCI president Jyotsna Suri stated recently: “It (recent statements) is certainly diluting the focus and it is uncalled for. It is detrimental to the development agenda…..The government should do some straightening out”.

The ASSOCHAM general secretary was more forthright: “The ‘ghar wapasi’ agenda of any section of society will create a huge dent in the growth agenda…..but will invest in a country where a law and order situation may arise over a period of time”.

These are voices being raised by the staunchest supporters of Narendra Modi who had backed him to the hilt during the election campaign. It is the backing of the corporates and big business along with the RSS network that saw Narendra Modi propelled to power. The big business and corporate houses are being disingenuous in raising the alarm at the Hindutva shenanigans.

The entire big business had supported Narendra Modi because of their experience of the `Gujarat model’. They saw Narendra Modi as a messiah who delivered a form of capitalist development which would fatten their profits and accumulate wealth. They knew very well that the Gujarat model was predicated on an aggressive Hindutva which had unleashed horrific violence on the minorities and suppressed them. They had struck a Faustian bargain to get Modi to power in return for the largesse he could deliver them. Now asking Narendra Modi, as the prime minister, to put an end to these activities displays either the height of naivety, or, a refusal to acknowledge what they already know.

The myth that Modi stands for development and good governance and has given up the Hindutva platform was fostered by the big business and the corporate media themselves. This was done to ensure that Narendra Modi would get the widest support from the people in the elections. This packaging of Modi was contrary to the reality of how Modi had emerged as a political leader in Gujarat. Modi had resorted to the crudest form of minority baiting during successive assembly election campaigns in Gujarat. In the elections held in 2002, Modi had made speeches like “hum paanch hamare pachees” (we are five and we will become 25) targeting the Muslims. It was during Modi’s rule in Gujarat that some of the forcible conversions of Christian tribals to Hinduism by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad took place.

With Modi as prime minister, the reality is that the RSS has come to occupy the centre stage of State power in India. For the first time, an RSS pracharak has become the prime minister of the country. It is not just the “extremist” or the “fringe elements” who are engaged in communal activities. The RSS chief himself has endorsed the `ghar wapasi’ campaign and declared that India is a Hindu Rashtra.

The Narendra Modi and the BJP in government is adopting the same approach. It was the government that decided to undermine Christmas by declaring it as a `good governance day’ and instructing government employees to attend office on that day, ignoring the fact that it is a gazetted holiday. It is the government which issued circulars to schools to organise activities on that day and see that students attend them. This was a petty way to display their disdain for the religious beliefs and festivals of non-Hindus.

In the face of such a reality, The Times of India  editorial’s, December 23, demand that “Either Bhagwat needs to moderate his statements and ditch Hindutva, or BJP must decisively distance itself from RSS” strains credulity. The BJP is a creature of the RSS and the party and the government is ultimately controlled by the RSS.

 

It will be a good thing if the big capitalists shed their illusions about the character of the prime minister and the nature of the Modi government. But this is unlikely to happen. The bonanza they expect has already materialised for some. According to the Forbes list of India’s richest 100, Gautam Adani is the biggest beneficiary under the new regime. Shares of Adani companies shot up ahead of the elections and Adani has added $ 4.5 billion to his wealth since 2013. This is a phenomenal sum of Rs 25,000 crore.

One of the reasons for their concern has been that the Hindutva forces may create communal tensions and violence and spoil the environment for investment and business. Narendra Modi is aware of this concern and is taking steps to assure them. The spate of ordinances promulgated on FDI in insurance, opening coal mining to private sector and diluting the Land Acquisition Act provisions are all signals to the corporates and foreign capital. This government will act in their interests while going ahead with the project of Hindutva. It remains to be seen whether the big bourgeois class will put the interests of the country ahead of their own class interests. There is not much scope for optimism in this regard.

Prakash Karat is General Secretary of CPI(M).