Logos for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), left, and the Indian National Congress (INC) party are displayed on a computer in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Election 2019: It’s A Battle Of Hindutva Versus Hinduism, Says Milan Vaishnav

In a country that has found unity in diversity, the battle in 2019 general election has come down to Hindutva versus Hinduism, according to Milan Vaishnav, director and senior fellow of the South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Secularism has become a non issue this election as both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are competing with each other to appease the largely Hindu majority in India, Vaishnav told BloombergQuint in an interview. “Secularism isn’t on the menu this time. It’s amazing how that word is not being talked about and how minorities are absent from most of our election discourse this time.”

The Congress, according to Vaishnav, doesn’t want to risk ignoring the Hindu population and so its approach is more to promote the idea of Hinduism, which is largely tolerant, diverse and plural against the BJP’s notion of Hindutva, which is seen to be homogeneous, uniform and monolithic.

If the BJP were to come to power, Vaishnav said Hindu nationalism will be its primary focus but not necessarily a major issue like the Ram mandir or the uniform civil code. Instead, the BJP might focus on things like rewriting text books to eliminate or reduce Islamic contribution to the Indian society.

“Those are some of the things that we have seen in the last five years but could accelerate in the next five.”

Watch the full interview here: