Is BJP Conservative?

In Search of India’s Conservative Party

  • Krzysztof Iwanek Asia Research Centre, War Studies University
Keywords: Indian politics, Indian conservatism, Hindu conservatism, Hindu nationalism, Bharatiya Janata Party, Ramrajya Parishad


This article will consider whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP), the party currently ruling India, may be considered conservative. The author will use Swapan Dasgupta’s 2015 lecture on conservatism as a starting point for further deliberations. While agreeing with some of Dasgupta’s points, the author will conclude that the defining elements of Indian conservatism which he had proposed can, at the same time, define Hindu nationalism as well. To find the difference between the two, the text will consider a few historical examples of disputes and cooperation between the parties of the Hindu Right (and between Hindu conservatives and Hindu nationalists in general) such as the issue of the civil code reform, the attitude towards Dalits (untouchables) and the question of monarchy abolition. The final conclusion of the text is that while Hindu nationalism does share certain aspects and goals with Hindu conservatism, it also differs with it on some other points, and thus the BJP is more of a nationalist than a conservative party. It was the Ramrajya Parishad, a small and now defunct party, that in the author’s view represented the strand of Hindu conservatism.

Author Biography

Krzysztof Iwanek, Asia Research Centre, War Studies University

is the Head of the Asia Research Centre at the War Studies University. In his academic work, he focuses on Indian history and politics, especially Hindu nationalism and Hindu conservatism. He is a regular contributor to The Diplomat magazine, and an occasional contributor to a number of other publications, such as The Interpreter (by Lowy Institute) or Obserwator Finansowy. He graduated from History (M.A.), Indology (M.A.) and Cultural Studies (PhD), all from the University of Warsaw. In the past he has taught at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Warsaw University and Collegium Civitas. He has co-authored a history of modern India (Indie. Od kolonii do mocarstwa. 1857-1947) with Adam Burakowski. His forthcoming book will cover Vidya Bharati: a chain of of private schools run by Hindu nationalists in India.


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How to Cite
Krzysztof Iwanek. 2019. “Is BJP Conservative? In Search of India’s Conservative Party”. Politeja 16 (2(59), 55-72.