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Is the BJP government seeking to create a Hindu rashtra — by jugaad?

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Sushmita Dev, a Congress Member of Parliament, recently noted, “Anyone who applied to the National Register of Citizens [NRC] legally claimed that they were Indian. But now, under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill [now an Act] they will have to claim they came from Bangladesh. This is a Catch-22.” This quote invites us not to see the NRC or CAA in isolation — but as a part of a collection of inchoate, haphazard laws and amendments to the Constitution in pursuit of what can be broadly termed as Hindu rashtra.

But what is this Hindu rashtra “we” seek? As political scientist Vinay Sitapati has explained, unlike Islam (or even Judaism), there is no clear, largely accepted alternate conception to the modern Indian democratic State in the Hindu nationalist ideology or Hindu scripture as to what a Hindu rashtra might be. Rather than appealing to any tightly-defined set of principles, the government is inventing its Hindu rashtra by jugaad (improvisation) — slowly, but surely, alienating Muslims. After the initial thrust, Kashmir is still in the throes of an Internet shutdown, with all of its major political leaders still under arrest — while the government has no discernible exit or normalisation strategy. When the NRC produced less-than-desirable results for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, it pushed the CAA. Anticipating trouble in the Northeast,........

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