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Not Hinduism

Not Hinduism
Highlights

Caste, religion and politics are intricately connected in India despite its secular, constitutional credentials.When the Mandal issue posed a serious threat to BJP’s pan-Hindu mobilisation, the Sangh Pariwar stepped in to rally the politics of India around Ram Mandir. The BJP immensely benefited from this counter strategy.

Caste, religion and politics are intricately connected in India despite its secular, constitutional credentials.When the Mandal issue posed a serious threat to BJP’s pan-Hindu mobilisation, the Sangh Pariwar stepped in to rally the politics of India around Ram Mandir. The BJP immensely benefited from this counter strategy.

But, now the BJP’s politics of Hindu nationalism finds a challenge in Karnataka with the shrewd Congress Chief Minister countering his rival in their own language.

The movement among a section of Lingayats that forms the core support base of the saffron brigade for a unique religious identity distinct from that of Hinduism has certainly irked the BJP that hopes to come back.

Riding on a series of electoral wins, success in Congress-ruled Karnataka would mean a decisive advantage for BJP in the run-up to the 2019 mandate. Similarly, retaining power in a state after a series of defeats is crucial for Congress, especially at a time when the party is witnessing a leadership transition.

The Lingayatism has a split personality in the course of its evolution as it imbibes several features of Hinduism while inheriting a rich legacy of progressive struggle against the caste system that plagues this religion.

The Congress is backing the stir for declaring Lingayatism as a distinct religion. Such a demand is completely unpalatable for the BJP that builds itself on Hindu narrative.

Hinduism is an amorphous religion that assimilates in itself myriad schools and sects. But, such an explanation cannot convince those who feel that their creed is a religion on its own. More so, such elucidations cannot silence the political authors of the demand.

Therefore, it’s no longer a sociological or anthropological question. The competing parties clamor for establishing their version of the issue in dispute.

Why because, Lingayats account for 17 per cent of state population and their support is critical for electoral success. For years now, the community has been mainly rallying behind BJP. The party’s chief ministerial candidate, B S Yeddyurappa, though scam-tainted, is considered a powerful leader of Lingayats.

Not just the political spectrum, even the Lingayats are not united on the issue. But, reports indicate that cause of ‘Not Hinduism’ is gaining popularity among the Lingayats causing anxious moments for the BJP.

The Hindi-Hindu image of BJP still impedes the party’s prospects in South of Vindhyas. Karnataka was the first state to break the ice. But, a series of corruption scandals has made the party eat its humble pie.

Now at a time when the party wants to stage a comeback, riding on the possible anti-incumbency faced by the Congress government, it finds it difficult to pierce through, as Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah bowls a googly.

The crusading journalist who fell to assassin bullet, Gowri Lankesh, published an essay arguing that Lingayatism should be considered a distinct faith, a few days before she was killed. This can fuel the ‘Not Hinduism’ campaign.

The Dravidian movement made neighbouring Tamil Nadu a difficult terrain for the BJP politics. Now, the Lingayat movement for separate religious identity has the potential to upset the BJP’s applecart.

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