Hearing the words ‘caste annihilation’ from a Hindutva politician is surprising and somewhat even paradoxical. For everyone knows that the RSS’s main vision is to create a monolithic Hindutva identity that would paper over existing fraternal caste fault lines and strengthen the Hindu hierarchy.
In India, caste is a reality an individual at every level is subjected to. The Hindu hierarchy boasts of the Bhraminical cone that is largely dependent on the Shudra who in turn, is largely dependent on the base formed by backward castes. Without his base, the entire pyramid would collapse. Hence, in order to survive, the Brahminical hierarchy would need to depend on the support of these backward castes.
Probably that is what RSS leader, Narendra Modi has in mind as he works to become the biggest “Hindu Hridaya Samrat” the country has ever seen. It can be said that the greatest reassurance for a Brahmin, Vaishya or Rajput of UP occurs when a person belonging to the backward caste acknowledges the Hindu hierarchy and pledges allegiance to the same model. The same happened in fact, when Kalyan Singh, a backward caste member pushed the RSS politically ahead when he led the BJP government in UP.
The RSS’s tactics to bring backward caste voters to the forefront while keeping the upper caste Sangh members reassured worked well in the 1990s when Kalyan Singh managed to gain 52, 51 and 57 seats in the elections held in undivided Uttar Pradesh in the years 1991, 1996 and 1998 respectively.
Along with Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharti were prominent leaders belonging to the Lodh Rajput community. These leaders became the main faces to support the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement, the Ram political program that eventually led to the destruction of the Babri Masjid.
Although the BJP is the main face behind the Hindutva movement, it has been asserted that even the Congress was silently hitching a ride on the same boat. BalrajMadhok, former Chief of Jan Sangh, even pointed out that Congress Leader Jawaharlal Nehru preferred being called Panditji because the Congress party wanted to send an indirect message to the heartland masses that Nehru was a Bhramin. It was with this very point that Narendra Modi flaunted his much-unknown backward caste status as he addressed his followers at the Ramlila Maidan, Delhi on Sunday.
Modi’s disclosure about his origins may be just what the Sangh Parivar needs to rally the backward masses to vote for the BJP during the forthcoming elections. For as RSS ideologue K N Govindarcharya pointed out, the BJP is working on what is called social engineering wherein it is placing a backward caste leader at the forefront to cover the backward castes while reassuring the upper caste members of their position in the hierarchy so that they extend their support to the party as well.