Although the BJP has been on an election-winning spree, it is important that it interprets the victories correctly. The major reason for the wins has been what is described as the ‘Modi factor’. This does not mean that Modi is some kind of a charismatic leader who charms the voters to follow him. The fact is that the people agree with the vision of India that he proposes. It is important for BJP and Hindutva grassroots workers, more than anybody else, to understand what this is. It is not simple, which is why there is so much of misdirected Hindu chauvinism being displayed at many places – before and after elections. They do not get what is working for them and pursuing what they think does.
The people are essentially against communal politics, which is why they have so emphatically rejected the Congress model of appeasement that has over the years sought to justify and cover up minority fundamentalism that operates under the cover of religious freedom. Communalism cannot be fought by such fake secularism, or by counter-communalism. It has to be done through promotion of the Indian identity, something that Modi has successfully done. To begin with, this requires veneration, not rejection of, India’s ancient culture and beliefs. Also, recognition of historical truths, howsoever bitter they may be. Even in the 18th Century, Hindu thought leaders had begun to reject practices that were unacceptable in the modern age and this approach was enshrined in the Constitution. Unfortunately, communal politics led to ‘toleration’ of other archaic and regressive beliefs that have become millstones around the neck of present day society. The insistence on these beliefs by fundamentalists cannot be ‘tolerated’ merely for the sake of a perennially delicate ‘ceasefire’.
Inextricably linked with this ‘Indian’ identity in its many dimensions and diversity is building of the capacity to ‘develop’ as a nation. In metaphorical terms, it is the desire to once again make India the ‘Sonay ki Chidiya’ of the past. This requires a development model that leads to wealth creation and distributive justice. Owing to the populist politics usual with democracies, the latter has always found greater support, while generation of wealth has been frowned upon. And yet, as democracies should, India has evolved to the point through repeated electoral experiments to a stage where a Modi-mix of the two has found acceptance. Religion can play a role as motivator, but not as an impediment. This pragmatism has to be understood by the BJP cadre, if they wish to build on the Modi factor to future electoral successes.