Although the Hindu right has never been more enfranchised at every level of government,
the BJP have steadily created a compelling narrative of majoritarian victimhood that has been told and re-told over decades, melded with their Hindutva ideology.
These stories feed into the resentment of many middle- and upper-caste Hindus who resent the Congress Party’s longstanding affirmative action policies to help lower castes, and the special customary laws that allow India’s Muslims to follow Islamic traditions when it comes to family legal matters like divorce and inheritance.
Since the 2019 election, the BJP have stepped up its Hindu nationalist agenda. They claim they are restoring Hinduism to its rightful place at the core of Indian society and believe there is nothing wrong with emphasising India’s Hindu history and traditions more strongly.
This leaves India’s Muslim minority (who form the world’s second-largest Muslim population of 172 million people)
Modi has portrayed himself as a Hindu leader under attack from Muslims.
To support this, the BJP have enacted a succession of legislative changes, which have helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India.
During the 2019 election campaign trail, Muslims were described as “termites” by senior members of the government.
Pragya Singh Thakur, a Hindu priestess who allegedly carried out a 2008 bombing that left 10 Muslims dead, was elected. Her stump speeches described a vision of Hindu supremacy in India that will be extended to neighbouring countries. Other BJP candidates labelled Mahatma Gandhi as a Muslim sympathiser and his assassin as a patriot.
This has led to escalating societal violence,
with gun violence becoming increasingly common, and hate speech proliferating.
Once hatred has been sanctioned, it is not always easy to isolate its target, and what the BJP has discovered is that the same people who are willing to attack Muslims are only too willing to attack lower-caste Hindus as well.