Why does Narendra Modi often attack Christians

Birth of a Nation, Second Attempt

The planets had determined the turning point down to the second. On August 5, 2020, at 12:44 p.m., India's first real independence, the beginning of Ram Rajya, began with the laying of the foundation stone for a Ram temple.

Modi submits to Lord Ram

As always with symbolic appearances, Prime Minister Modi was dressed with the utmost care, in Vedic-cut robes, in addition in royal brocade and silk. Saffron yellow was the dominant color, even for the few participants - some even wore saffron face masks.

When Modi turned to the nation after a lot of incense and Sanskrit shlokas - now without a face mask - it was found that he had even borrowed his hair and beard style from classic depictions of the Rajput warriors. And this prince, every detail an expression of power and authority, now stretched out on the ground before his ruler, Lord Ram.

Modi is often compared to Donald Trump, but in the subtlety of his messaging he plays on a wide range of symbols compared to which Trump is a constantly repeated nursery rhyme. For example, he has mastered the art of omission. He did not mention the miraculous coincidence that August 5th coincided with the first anniversary of the abolition of the state of Kashmir and its relegation to a second-rate Union Territory. Kashmir was the only state with a Muslim majority.

“Unity in Diversity” is being reinterpreted

In his programmatic speech, which reached hundreds of millions of television viewers, Modi spoke anointingly of the great diversity of India. It shows itself, for example, in the many variants of the Ramayana, next to the Mahabharata, the second classic epic of India. No matter how large the variants are, they all have something in common, namely God Ram. Like no other national symbol, it embodies Indian identity - unity in diversity.

That sounds harmless enough, if it weren't for the small fact that this pair of words has defined India's secular republic since the state was founded 73 years ago. “Unity in Diversity” was the promise that his unity would be achieved in the peaceful coexistence of all religious communities.

A slight reinterpretation of a slogan turns the multitude of religions into a multitude of Hindu varieties and thus defines the Indians as the Hindus among them. The largest religious minority becomes rhetorically and symbolically a blank space - not a word about the Indian Muslims, whose national identity is being torn from the ground with a rhetorical trick.

Contempt for Gandhi's non-violence

In comparison, another detail was almost double handed. Two of the eight invited participants in the ceremony were people who had amply earned the place of honor: They are still charged with helping to organize the destruction of the mosque at this very location in 1992. If the courts hadn't put this criminal act on the back burner for almost thirty years - as a result of which over 3000 people lost their lives - they would now be legally in jail instead of on this explosive reality show.

Prime Minister Modi's program is not only aimed at relegating Muslims to second class citizens. He also attacks - again with the choice of date - implicitly other central building blocks of Indian democracy. The laying of the foundation stone on August 5th came just ten days before Independence Day. The Indian Republic was born on August 15, 1947. Three years later, a secular constitution with all the characteristics of a Westminster democracy was passed.

The Hindutva movement, from which the BJP emerged in 1953, was hardly involved in Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for independence. For them, the real enemy was not British colonial rule. It was the religious yoke that held Islamic rule for much longer - a thousand years! - had imposed on the Hindus. She also despised Gandhi's strategy of non-violence. It was the cause of India's weakness, and only a martial philosophy could stand up to the peoples of the sword - Islam and Christianity.

It was the hated Congress Party that had won all the laurels in the anti-colonial struggle and was able to live on them as a state party for almost sixty years.

A new founding myth

The new India therefore needs a new founding myth, a new narrative. It reads: The struggle for independence did not end until August 5, 2020, the day on which Ram Rajya - a Hindu kingdom of God - was ushered in. August 15th will still be a day off from school and the Prime Minister will continue to deliver his address. But whether this will sound from the battlements of the Red Fort in the future remains to be seen. Because the citadel was the seat of the Mughal rulers until 1857 - a permanent symbol of enslavement.

The RSS, the cadre association of the Hindutva movement, has not remained inactive during its sixty years of congressional rule. With one leg underground and the other as an “apolitical NGO”, he has systematically infiltrated every social and state group. The same was true of its political subsidiary, the BJP. It was a mainstream moderate politician, A. B. Vajpayee, who brought the movement to power by democratic means

But now, with Narendra Modi, a radical politician has taken the lead who has little to do with pluralism. Thanks to the long-term infiltration of state institutions, he has succeeded in quickly bringing them onto his majority line. His big election victory a year ago also allowed him to project the BJP as the only major people's party. And he went to work quickly. The repeal of the state of Kashmir, the change of civil rights and the court ruling on Ayodhya followed in quick succession. The course has been set.

Parliamentary majority without a majority of votes

Nevertheless, he will have to be careful. India still has a democratic and secular constitution. He knows that the large parliamentary majority does not reflect the number of votes, as is the case with proportional representation. The BJP won the two thirds of the parliamentary seats with 37% of the votes cast, which corresponds to 24% of the registered voters and 15% of the population.

This does not mean to suppress the fact that Modi personally has a popularity rate of over eighty percent, that his Kashmiri policy is probably supported by well over half of Indians. It may well be that his anti-Muslim policies will resonate with the majority of the population.

But it is one thing to maintain a distant relationship with a Muslim neighbor and to be annoyed by the loudspeakers that come out five times a day (meanwhile blaring from the temple is perceived as a sonorous environment of a living culture). But will a Hindu feel comfortable in a Heloten regime in which an oppressed minority is a permanent powder keg at their own door?

With the laying of the foundation stone of the temple, the political gamble - the BJP as the only national people's party, Modi as unrestricted ruler - is now to be expanded to include the religious dimension: Ram as the only and supreme popular god, instead of the myriad of gods and cults in the Indian pantheon.

Ram - not an undisputed deity

But the Hindus won't let their gods be stolen from them that quickly. They are part of a still vital culture that is three thousand years old. Ram is undoubtedly the most popular god in India. But that does not mean that his reduction to an anti-Muslim god of war is appreciated by many Hindus. His worship is based on the figure of the just and peaceful king. The mantra "Jay Shri Ram" as a war cry does not fit well with it.

And as with any Indian god, you can argue with Ram. He rejects his wife Sita, and this behavior has made her an icon of the feminist movement today - and Ram the patriarchal scapegoat. There are even cults in South and East India that revere Ram's counterpart Ravana - an archetype of evil - as heroes.

In the Ramayana epic, Ravana is the king of the Dravidian south of the subcontinent ("Lanka"). This coupling of an ethnic geography with the epitome of evil was not wanted there. In the South Indian versions of the Ramayana, Ravana is not Sita's kidnapper, but offers shelter from her domineering husband.

What happens to the unit?

Such freedoms are of course taboo for the Hindutva ideology, which sees precisely this religious diversity as the weakness of the Hindu community. A few years ago there was a riot at Delhi University when the BJP government withdrew an essay on the basic course by the Indologist A. K. Ramanujam. His name was Threehundred Ramayanas.

Unity and multiplicity are necessary in order to give structure to a thousand-fold state. Who knows what happens to unity when multiplicity is sacrificed?