Narendra Modi wasn’t supposed to win.
India's media elites would tell you that the Indian prime minister and his maligned Bharatiya Janata Party divided the country along the faultlines of caste inequality, religious supremacy, intimidation, thuggery, the alienation of Muslims, and economic ineptitude. The accusations leveled against Modi and the BJP were rife, but no one except the liberal elites and the Western NGOs who support them were listening.
Modi faced an uphill battle to protect his reputation as the leader of every Indian citizen. He was accused of othering neglected minorities and sidelining their interests. However, the message of a thriving, confident, Hindu core was—and always will be—at the heart of Modi’s resurgence. It's India's reality. Contrary to the Western narrative, Modi’s message is one of inclusivity, Dharmic ideation, and resurgent nationalism in the might of the Indian citizen, regardless of class, creed, and religion.
Despite what the Indian media class and their hopelessly supine Western media champions claim, it is impossible for any would-be leader in India to win an election by being Hinduphobic. In the face of the narrative, the silent Hindu vote has risen against efforts by opposition parties to divide the country along the lines of language, history, caste, and religion. It was the Indian Congress and the liberal political class that tried to divide the nation, not Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP, or Modi.
[caption id="attachment_177234" align="aligncenter" width="626"] 2019 Lok Sabha election results (Google)[/caption]
Remarkably, the turnout for Modi was even bigger this time around than it was five years ago, when Modi was first elected into office. The economy hasn’t necessarily played to Modi’s favor, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from voting for him. The vote, as it stands, was a vote for India’s sense of national identity and collective pride. It was a true “Make India Great Again” moment.
Anti-Hindu politics have lost.
State after state, BJP’s net losses were minimal, and the gains in new territories significant, largely thanks to the Hindu vote. The silent majority has spoken.
In West Bengal, where I am from, the left-wing elite suffered a thrashing in the polls despite playing with identity politics. The turnaround was remarkable and serves as the most obvious example of a counterattack by a pro-Hindu consolidation, ignoring the violent and histrionic mood in Bengal during the election. Voters refused to listen to Hinduphobic speakers who tried to vilify Modi.
The Left lost everywhere—West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala—largely because it chose to position itself as a “secular” party in opposition to the Hindu populace.
It has been the calling card of the largely liberal Congress ever since India earned its independence in 1947. History will show that the Left survived on votebank politics to gain minority votes, splitting the population among class and caste lines. Their efforts to divide the country directly caused the rise of an authentic and credible Hindu party through the BJP.
The BJP knows that while corporate business may give them newspaper headlines and the support of media elites, it is only by focusing on the poor and working class that one can truly understand India. It performs a delicate balancing act with its priorities between center-left to center-right positions, depending on the issue at hand.
The BJP has shown that its message is all encompassing, and not one isolated to Hindu heartlands, spreading its saffron wings to the east, taking over many states in the North-East, and now becoming a strong alternative to the All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal in Odisha. The Left’s defeat in Kerala portends the rise of the BJP in this state in future, and its ability to gain seats in Telangana just months after being trounced by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in the assembly elections shows that the BJP footprint is spreading in the south as well.
[caption id="attachment_177230" align="aligncenter" width="1980"] Modi campaings for the BJP (Al Jazeera English. Flickr. CC.)[/caption]
What the liberal media elite in India (who have spoken poorly of India to Western media outlets) have never understood is that their tactic of divide and rule led to the loss of the Hindu vote. They have instead determined to remain Hinduphobic, self-hating, often flip-flopping with Hinducentric issues when their allegiances are placed under the political microscope.
Nobody in India cares about Gandhi’s political dynasty—the luster of Gandhian secularism has worn off. The English-language media and opposition parties simply could not bring themselves to tell their hero Rahul Gandhi that nobody is buying what he is selling, not least because of the corrupted and maligned reputation both his father and his party bring with them wherever they try to tell Hindus how much they should hate themselves.
And contrary to the narrative the media elite tries to feed, nationalism is important in Indian politics. Indians in general—and Hindus, especially—do not want to see their country broken up by opposition parties that are so anti-Modi that they are willing to use free speech to encourage self-contempt for history, culture and religion.
So, what happens now? Modi 2.0 must focus on economics first.
It’s all about the jobs in India and the agricultural polity must be dealt with through labor and land reforms.
The BJP must then ensure its message spreads throughout all of India. Good work has been done in Bengal and Odisha, but the typically left-leaning South, especially Tamil Nadu, must awaken to its message. If Modi manages to accomplish this, the BJP will be the first party after the post-independence Congress to establish a deep footprint through India.
Of course, there is the elephant in the room—India’s Muslims. The BJP must now reach out to them and they must be willing to listen to what Modi has to say. They will listen if their economic and social ambitions are respected, not through identity politics. At the same time, the party cannot forsake its Hindu orientation by simply appeasing Muslims. It must foster genuine dialogue with them, bypassing any risk of contradiction so that no seeds of suspicion are sown between the two historically adverse groups.
Thankfully, India’s Muslims now have evidence of Modi’s efforts in uniting India instead of simply having a Hinduphobic narrative fed to them by the liberal media elite and the Gandhi dynasty.
Saurav Dutt is an author, lawyer and political columnist. He writes for the IB Times, The Times of Israel and his commentary has been featured in TIME magazine, The Spectator and The Times of India. He writes on geopolitical issues, security, governance and political risk.