Is BJP Conservative?
In Search of India’s Conservative Party
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.
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