Is the BJP still just a ‘Hindu nationalist party’?

The phrase “Hindu nationalist” has almost always prefaced western media reports of the BJP, and it is no different despite Narendra Modi‘s sensational, conversation-stopping hat-trick. But it is not just fair-skinned whites who feel dutybound to slap the appellation.

# “Hindu Radical re-elected in India,” screams The New York Times. “On Sunday, voters re-elected the politician, Narendra Modi, arguably India’s most incendiary officeholder, as the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, reports Somini Sengupta.

# “Hindu nationalists win key vote,” says The Washington Post. “Hindu nationalists won a solid victory Sunday in a closely watched election in Gujarat, one of India’s wealthiest and most restive states, further weakening the ruling Congress party ahead of national elections,” reports Emily Wax.

“Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist and chief minister of the western state of Gujarat has now staked his claim to leadership of his party—and perhaps his country,” reports Jeremy Page, in The Times, London.

#”The Hindu nationalist BJP has won a key election in the western Indian state of Gujarat, final results show,” says the BBC.

# “Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, admired by corporate India as a model politician and feared by Muslim and Christian minorities as a messianic Hindu icon not averse to violence, scored an emphatic victory on Sunday,” reports Jawed Naqvi in The Dawn, Karachi.

# “Controversial Hindu nationalist party leader Narendra Modi swept back to power in… in the Hindu nationalist bastion… in what was called a national victory over the rival Congress Party,” reports Ajay Jha in Gulf News, Dubai.

# “Controversial Hindu nationalist party leader Narendra Modi swept back to power by a wide margin in India’s religiously divided state of Gujarat yesterday,” reports Agence-France Press in The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong.


Should the BJP take offence at being straitjacketed as “Hindu nationalists” like “Islamic fundamentalists”? Should it just not care since this is just the outpouring of what it calls “a pseudo-secular, English media”? Should it be justly proud of the epithet?

Cross-posted on sans serif

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22 Responses to “Is the BJP still just a ‘Hindu nationalist party’?”

  1. Goldstar Says:

    Simply ignore maadi… Just bask in the glory and enjoy the euphoria while it lasts (till the Rajasthan and MP elections)

  2. Thympanna Shettru Says:

    “Should the BJP take offence at being straitjacketed as “Hindu nationalists” like “Islamic fundamentalists”? ”

    Not at all !! Because they are not the same! Even far-left liberals at the NY Times should know a little bit about what Islamic fundamentalists can do. (hint, hint). For all the talk I hear – I haven’t really seen any ‘hindu nationalistic’ parties enganged in terrorist activities or declaring wars on other sovereign nations!

  3. Thympanna Shettru Says:

    And…as to the morons at BBC, DAWN and other news papers from dysfunctional cities/countries – They are best ignored !

  4. SumneNeeve Says:

    Why is “nationalist” a bad word? I read the article on “Nationalism” on Wikipedia and I agree that “extreme-nationalism” is very bad for the country, but then “extreme” of anything is bad.

    Is Modi a “nationalist” or an “extreme-nationalist”?

  5. Indian Says:

    WHy are you equating Nationalism with terrorism? For India to prosper we ALL should be nationalists.

    If you look at the current US presidential debates or the way China carries out its business, or the way Putin rules Russia, they are all basically nationalistic and that is the main reason why these countries are doing so well. Because your country has to come FIRST and every thing second. THis was how our founding fathers felt but unfortunately along the way we seem to have lost this important message (all thanks to COngress govts) and now the country comes last after family (esp Gandhi family), religion caste and every thing else.

  6. Zenman Says:

    Paying too much attention to what the foreign media has to say, to me, represents a slavish attitude rooted in our colonial legacy of treatnig whites as superior.

    Does anybody in, say, Hong Kong, give a rat’s posterior to what Outlook or Hindustan Times have to say about current affairs in Hong Kong?

  7. Sujoy Bhattacharjee Says:

    Like him or hate him, Modi has shown that inspite of Congress’ defamation attempt(maut ke saugadar), the ghosts of his past(Godhra) and the lackadaisical attitude of his own party’s central leadership, he is capable of winning the state elections on his own.
    And long as Modi is capable of steering himself away from controversies arising from his leanings towards Hindutva and nationalism he can lead Gujrat to even further development.
    Talks in some quarters suggest that Modi is even considered as a future Prime Ministerial candidate, but this I feel is taking things too much.

  8. Aatmasakshi Says:

    The dictionary definition of the Bharatiya Janata Party is Indian Peoples’ Party. The best case scenario would be if it would conduct itself that way—as a rainbow party of various Indian peoples regardless of their caste, community, religion, region.

    Unfortunately, not even Modi’s “conversation-stopping sensational hattrick” can couch the fact that the BJP is unashamedly exploiting Hindu sentiment alone. Witness Modi’s rhetorical questions at public meetings. No wonder the western media (“western” to whom?) takes some vicarious delight in calling it a “Hindu nationalist party”.

    There is no crime that the BJP is committing by appealing to Hindus if, the Congress and the left, appeal to minority/Muslim sentiment. But last time I checked we were a still a democracy and that means taking count of even the last man—Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, Jew, or of whatever denomination.

    Modi must be congratulated on a chest-thumping victory, no doubt, but no amount of thigh-slapping can gloss over his well-documented blood-lust using the garb of Hindu nationalism and then hiding behind it.

    The gutless Indian corporate media has been shouted into silence about his and his party’s culpability by a cunning campaign of finger-pointing. Thankfully the western media hasn’t forgotten. And as long as they don’t forget, the acceptability of the likes of Modi on the international stage will be a pipe dream.

  9. orangestreet11 Says:

    i think the bjp i still a hindu nationalist party and its really sad that leaders like modi come back to power repeatedly

  10. Aashadabhoothi Says:

    The western media is the most prejudiced and bigoted. Why should we pay any heed to them. According to many of the western media moghuls India as a nation exists only because the british undertook the white man’s burden and civilized us the native savages. These prejudices still run in many forms.
    You get respect, coverage and acceptability depending on the political power you yeild. In the global open market economy if we do well the media will come on their knees and they will give credence to anyone be it Modi or mayavathi or laloo.

  11. viparethabuddi Says:

    For all those who missed it the original title for NY times read –
    ‘New York Times: Hindu Supremacist Wins in India’ by Sengupta…another stooge .

    It has been changes since then …but has left a tarce..I think India media has gone bonkers…where is objectivity with Nandigram / reservation or Color TV polictics coverage..

  12. Hindu Says:

    Hindu Nationalism = Cultural nationalism. BJP should be proud of this epithet. Psuedo-secularists like KP will never understand the word ‘Hindu’. Now, go to the Sunday Mass.

  13. ERR Says:

    If the U.S. Media really had guts, they ought to have screamed when things were stage-managed in their backyard during Gore- Bush election.Not only CNN goofed in making a wrong announcement, withdrawing it and maknga mess of it all.It is easier to ponitificate about what’s happening 10000 miles away, and keep a blindeye when your backyard stinks. Same thing happened when Bush and Blair buldozed the world into believing about WMD when the media should have asked for proof, done sting operations to prove them wrong. Instead, they were lambs following the duo. Now they write about India and Modi!

  14. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    It is the Hindu Nationalist Party just like The Hindu is The Hindu.

    The day The Hindu will correct its name to something politically correct, we can rebrand the BJP! :P

  15. gundabhat Says:

    NY Times, Washington post, dawn can call BJP what they want. Do Indians really pay attention to what these papers have to say? Modi won fair and square in a democratic process thats what matters. These days anybody associated wit BJP is a “Hindu Nationalist” and Any body against it is a “Pseudo-secular”…………..just namecalling.

  16. Hoysala Says:

    I am not sure what a ‘sting operation would have achieved, when even some of UN inspectors were ambivalent about the where abouts WMD outfits in Iraq. It is a mere throw away remark. Next we would hear Saddam a a saint hard done by the West. Not for nothing Israel unleashed air raids on selected locations in Syria, and Syria a bellicose country simply bottled it. Even a few hard nosed weapon inspectors suggested it was possible for Saddam to move his WMDs to Syria, despite his long standing bad relation with Syrian dictators. There was plenty opposition in the media in UK, Europe and USA about the Iraq war. BBC was full of satiristic programmes about Blair and Brown when the WMDs were not discovered.
    One of my friends , an erstwhile Jansangh member, a staunch supporter of BJP was highly critical of Modi’s outburts and it is no use in blaming Western media if they picked them up and paint the picture of him as they have done. Blame the gutless corporate media in India for being cowed into silence . Sonia got away with her remark about Modi and his party as ‘merchants of death’ I should remind that it was the media opposition to Vietnam war which tempered Johnson’s forays into vietnam,and it is well known that Nixon was undone by media particularly the efforts of Washington Post.

  17. Yashica Says:

    @ viparethabuddi

    Stop daydreaming and seeing ghosts where none exist. At no point of time after the Modi win was the NYT headline “Hindu supremacist wins in India”.

    The relevant paragraph reads, “His victory, by a wide margin, was a stunning defeat for the country’s governing Congress Party and signaled that Mr. Modi and his charismatic, often pugnacious, brand of Hindu supremacist politics would be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”

    The phrase “Hindu supremacist” has been used by NYT only with reference to Bal Thackeray in 1995. But “Hindu supremacist politics” has been used by NYT several times in the past to describe the BJP’s politics, not just by Somini Sengupta but also by John F. Burns.

  18. kaangeya Says:

    Somini also writes
    […after a mysterious fire engulfed a train carrying members of a Hindu nationalist organization, killing 59 people on board.]

    and also quotes Tavleen Singh

    [Violence has not been the exclusive purview of B.J.P.-led governments. As the columnist Tavleen Singh pointed out Sunday in The Indian Express, 3,000 minority Sikhs were slain here in the capital in 1984, during Congress Party rule…]

    And guys Javed Naqvi isn’t a foreign correspondent. He’s an Indian stringer for The Dawn.

  19. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Doddi Buddi and the rest,

    This discussion is getting morose and stilted. Throw in a couple of jokes. Also find our Dhanwanthari Ramesh. He has disappeared. I feel sorry even if he were just a figment some keyboard- happy scribbler.

  20. Ahmad Says:

    Well, BJP itself admits on its website that it is a Hindu Nationalist party – this text was visible till February 2008, however, when the election commission was informed of this – this text has been removed from the Google Search display

  21. Ramsey Says:

    Hi sincerely feel the congress is carrying India professionally to the next level. The last thing we want is BJP coming to power and bringing all their backward thinking and backward thumping onto the people of India. God Bless the Congress.

  22. Larissa Says:

    Hope BJP wins. At least they have dignity and a strategy and vision for India and do not follow a barely educated housewife who leads Congress.The West liked the BJP and were upset when it lost power in 2002. It is the only party that has a strategy and vision for India–for its defense, economy etc. Indians are just unaware of their own history and still display the remnants of colonial thinking. Modi won because he is clean and not corrupt and does a lot for Gujrat. Case closed. That is what people want. The way that Indians think that Gujrat riots are the only page in history shows that they are fools–they have already lost Kashmir to Islamic Juiahists who have kicked out the Pandits (400,000) who had been living there since the days before there was even a religion called Islam, and now these people live like regugees in their won country. What other government in the world caters to minorities but does not protect the majority? Only India. We have Congress because Indians are fools and they need to be lead by a barely educated foreign housewife…Is this why McCaulay said perhaps that Indians are congenitally incapable of self-rule?

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