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Narendra Modi: The making of a majoritarian leader

17 40 0
23.04.2019

Narendra Modi says he developed a "strong hatred towards the Congress party" early on. He was only six years old when Vadnagar, the small village where he was born, was overwhelmed with political ferment. In the early 1950s, a new Western grassroots movement had emerged, demanding a separate state within the Indian federal system be carved out for the Gujarati-speaking population.

Gujarati nationalists were agitating against the domination of the Marathi-speaking ethnic group in what, at that time, was known as Bombay state. Young Modi was fascinated by their street action.

He joined the men-only processions which crossed his village almost every day. A friend of his father distributed political badges and he proudly wore one, as he chanted along with Gujarati slogans. He would watch with excitement as effigies of Congress leaders were set on fire.

The protests were not backed by any political party but had a strong presence of Hindu nationalists. Although the goal of the agitation was distant from the ideological objective of establishing Hindu supremacy, it provided an opportunity to regain the political legitimacy, lost when independence struggle leader MK Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Ghandi, or Great Man, was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in January 1948.

The assassin, a man by the name of Nathuram Godse, had cut his political teeth with the fountainhead of Hindu nationalistic politics, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps - RSS). The organisation propagated the belief that Hinduism is the basis of Indian nationalism and followers of other faiths, mainly Islam and Christianity, are Hindus because Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life or the culture of the land. Its aim was to transform India into a Hindu state.

Although the RSS was absolved of conspiring to assassinate Gandhi, the majority of Indians had still turned hostile towards it. Participating in the amorphous protest for a separate state for the Gujarati-speaking population provided the RSS much needed political........

© Al Jazeera