Andrew Sullivan has a blog post comparing the Indian and U.S. political situations today, citing an anonymous reader. The reader’s main point is that the current infighting within the U.S. Republican party might be seen as resembling the BJP’s own internal chaos in India:
Perhaps the Democrats can look to India for reasons to be optimistic. At this time, the BJP is in electoral ruins, aided by their rank and honest fundamentalism. They’ve been smashed by Congress for two elections in a row and the report on Ayodhya is about as damning as can be. In response, the hardcore base is working to eliminate anyone who can lead them out of the wilderness. Just as in the GOP, this is done in a pursuit of ideological purity. The only difference is the religion being espoused. (link)
This seems like a viable parallel for a minute, but only for a minute. First, the recent report on Ayodhya, which I blogged about recently, doesn’t seem politically significant; it’s more of a symbolic event. As the reader continues, the parallel starts to seem really shaky:
The RSS, which provides the ideological grounding of Hindu nationalism, as well as a significant section of the ground game, has forced Jaswant Singh out for the simple act of praising the founder of Pakistan. They’ve warned all other moderates to basically shut up and toe the party line. No one seems to remember that the BJP became nationally popular thanks to a pragmatic program of economic growth, reducing corruption, and downplaying Hindutva. Again, the moderates in the party are bemoaning these trends, and warn that divisive communalism may lead to short term electoral gain, but will ultimately lead to total marginalization. No one is listening.
I question the reader’s understanding of what happened during the 1990s. Yes, the Congress Party was widely seen as deeply corrupt and incompetent after the disastrous decades of the 1970s and 1980s. But as I understand history, the BJP actually gained quite a bit of popular momentum in the late 1980s and early 1990s, specifically through communal rhetoric focused on issues such as the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and Shahbano. Continue reading