In election after election since 2014, both at the Union and state levels, the BJP has won more often than it has lost—a clear indication of growth beyond its core Hindu base. The question is, why do so many people across divisions of caste, religion, and gender vote for a party with unapologetically aggressive Hindutva politics? Are its much-publicized development schemes, whatever their flaws, the big pull factor? Or the active mobilisation of the RSS cadre to its cause?In this fascinating revisionist history, political scientist and journalist Nalin Mehta examines how the BJP became the world’s largest political party. He goes beyond the usual narrative of the party’s Hindutva politics to explain how, under Narendra Modi, it reshaped the Indian polity using its own brand of social engineering. This reconstruction was cleverly powered by new caste coalitions, the claim of a new welfare state that focused on marginalised social groups and the making of a women-voter base.Based on data from three unique indices—the Mehta–Singh Social Index, which studies the caste composition of Indian political parties; the Narad Index, which calculates communication patterns across topics and audiences; and PollNiti, which connects and tallies hundreds of political and economic datasets—The New BJP is full of startling insights into the way both the party and the country function. Previously untapped historical records, exclusive interviews with party leaders and comprehensive reportage from across India provide a fresh understanding of the BJP’s growth areas, including the Northeast and south India.A lucid and objective study of the BJP and India today, this is a book that demands engagement and debate from every side of the political divide.
Thursday, September 29