BJP does not have Intellectuals!

As I see it, the issue is not whether Arun¬†Shourie is an intellectual (or whether Prakash Karat and EMS Namboodaripad represent intellectuals). The point I was trying to make is the one between a social movement and intellectuals. ¬†Any movement that captures the imagination of a people (or even of a cross-section of a people) has to have some or another kind of narrative. Normally, the crafting of such a narrative involves the labor of intellectuals. Congress had one such when it was a mass movement; however, it lost that narrative in the course of the last decades. In the process of losing its own narrative, it has also accommodated multiple voices and narrators: the so-called ‘radical’ intellectuals in India have prospered under the congress rule. The Communist Parties have their intellectuals, both native and foreign and from yesterday and today. The BJP did find resonance in a cross-section of the people in India and yet it does not appear to possess a distinct narrative of its own. The fact that BJP gets characterized in different ways (‘Hindu Fundamentalist’, ‘Fascist’, ‘Nationalist’, etc) by different people indicates that these characterizations have more to do with the theory that one accepts about these phenomena (‘religious fundamentalism’, ‘fascism’, ‘nationalism’, etc) than they have to do with the ‘story’ that BJP tells. Furthermore, the BJP is also hostile to intellectuals: in fact, it is very typical to hear them identify ‘intellectuals’ with ‘secular thinkers’. It is almost as though they think that this social layer, which the intellectuals are, is an ‘alien growth’ in the Indian culture, something that the British created. While it is undoubtedly true that the kind of academic intellectuals we have today are outgrowths of colonial and post-colonial developments, this situation does not quite explain the hostility of the BJP. Hostility towards knowledge is not ‘native’ to the Indian culture. At the same time, BJP is not hostile to something that is really ‘alien’ to Indian culture: Nationalism. Instead, the ‘ideologues’ of the BJP try to spin a deeply ‘nationalist’ story.

The relationship between the BJP and intellectuals is only one side of the puzzle. The other side has to do with the Indian society. What kind of resonance is/was there between the Indian society and the BJP? Why is there no new crop of intellectuals trying to theorize what BJP has only dimply sensed? Is there some relationship between the absence of such intellectuals and what I call ‘colonial consciousness’?

When I say that it is not clear to me why BJP has not produced intellectuals and knows only of ideologues, I have something like the above situation in my mind.