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Caught in the Crossfire: The Dilemmas of India’s Right-Wing Movement

Since the inception of the NDA Government in 2014, India's right-wing has consistently performed well across all sectors of society. Both print and electronic media have been significantly influenced by this ideology. The bureaucracy and academia have, to some extent, either shifted their political leanings or have begun to accept ideologies they previously rejected. This trend is not confined to India alone; it has also been observed in Europe and the Americas. Figures like Javier Milei in Argentina, Meloni in Italy, Wilders in the Netherlands, Trump and Vivek in the US, among others, exemplify this global phenomenon.

As a right-wing conservative commentator, it's imperative to highlight certain double standards prevalent within India's acclaimed right-wing movement, stemming from a misunderstanding of the concepts of right and left. The recent statement by India's Prime Minister, boasting an increase in the number of public sector undertakings from 234 to 254, hints at a shift towards socialism, departing from the earlier ethos of free enterprise. The BJP's National Spokesperson, Sudhanshu Trivedi, suggests that the party aligns neither with the right nor the left but identifies as "nationalist." 

However, it's noteworthy that the BJP is a member of the Asia Pacific Democracy Union, chaired by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe, an organization advocating for freedom and free enterprise. The BJP's past affiliation with the International Democratic Union, comprising conservative and right-wing political parties, further underscores their ideological stance.

Despite these affiliations, prominent figures within the BJP, such as Cabinet Minister Smriti Irani, openly identify as right-wing. This ambiguity suggests a lack of clarity within India's right-wing movement, perhaps driven more by a desire to retain power than adherence to a specific ideology. Many of the government's policies lean towards socialism, raising questions about their ideological coherence. Notably, prominent economists within the government refrain from advocating for a market-driven economy, indicating a departure from traditional right-wing principles.

Emerging right-wing voices in public life, including practicing lawyers, professors at prestigious institutions like JNU, IIT & IIM and retired IAS/IPS/IFS officers, have taken to platforms like YouTube to promote conservative ideologies in India. However, their focus often revolves around criticism of Islam and the glorification of cultural supremacy, overlooking nuances of historical events. While reclaiming cultural heritage from past invasions is important, it's equally crucial to acknowledge historical transformations, such as the conversion of the Jewish Temple into the Al Aqsa Mosque or Constantinople's transition to Istanbul.

Additionally, the selective support for global conflicts, such as remaining impartial in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, despite Russia being a socialist country, and considering the fact that Palestine has never recognized Israel as a nation, while also backing Israel in the Israel-Palestine conflict, highlights inconsistencies within the right-wing narrative.

Moreover, recent incidents, such as the targeting of minorities in India following Hamas attacks and the questioning of Congress's resolution on Palestine's statehood, underscore the complexities of India's right-wing discourse. The narrative often shifts blame onto the bureaucracy for controversial decisions, distancing the beloved Prime Minister from accountability. This evasion of responsibility contrasts sharply with the image of strong leadership projected by PM Modi. Furthermore, while criticizing Congress, right-wing ideologues fail to address their own government's support for Palestine, thereby highlighting the inconsistency in their stance. If the Government of India has taken an independent approach and supported the status quo between Israel and Palestine, it raises questions as to why similar demands are not made of the Congress party.

In essence, the BJP, once perceived as a proponent of neoliberalism, has shown little adherence to these principles since 2014. Criticism from political strategist Prashant Kishore regarding the delayed implementation of lateral entry schemes further reflects this departure from traditional right-wing policies. While the government has distributed appointment letters to counter opposition narratives for Government Jobs, it fails to address the underlying issue of unemployment through a shift towards a business-driven society.

Additionally, the Modi government's emphasis on populist welfare schemes and subsidies, such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, has drawn criticism from some quarters for its perceived departure from conservative principles. While these initiatives aim to alleviate poverty and improve social welfare, critics argue that they reflect a more interventionist and statist approach, reminiscent of socialist policies. This tension between espoused right-wing ideology and the implementation of socialist-leaning programs underscores the complexity and nuances within India's political landscape.

Furthermore, the coalition-building strategy of the Modi government, particularly through the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has raised eyebrows among conservative circles. The inclusion of parties with socialist leanings, such as Janata Dal United (JDU) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) from Bihar, Janata Dal (Secular) from Karnataka, Apna Dal and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) from Uttar Pradesh (my home state), Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from Andhra Pradesh, and Republican Party of India (RPI) from Maharashtra, has been viewed as a departure from ideological purity in pursuit of political power. This pragmatic approach to coalition-building highlights the prioritization of electoral success over ideological consistency, further blurring the lines within India's right-wing politics.

It's worth acknowledging the contributions of leaders like PV Narasimha Rao & Dr. Manmohan Singh, who, despite leading the Congress, a party with socialist leanings, implemented significant economic reforms. However, the current right-wing populist government in India, along with its supporters in various sectors, including media, bureaucracy, academia, and legal circles, fails to articulate a coherent political and economic ideology.

In conclusion, India's right-wing populist government and its affiliates across different sectors exhibit a lack of clarity regarding their ideological stance. They have failed to effectively communicate their political and economic conservatism, leading to inconsistencies and contradictions within their discourse.

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