Does Cultural Nationalism Cause Minority Exclusion?: Examining Anti-Politics and Populist Rhetoric of Right-Wing Regime in Contemporary India

Dr. Ravi Ranjan

This research paper seeks to understand the ‘R’ factor of anti-politics in India among religious minorities (‘R’-reluctance towards participation in politics). This ‘R’ factor can be calculated by aggregating the vulnerability quotients of minorities in a democratic governance. The rise of right wing regimes in bigger democracies, is a challenge to both secular public sphere and civic nationalism. When Aristotle propounded human beings as ‘political animal’ he was very much sure about citizens’ participation in affairs of city-state called Polis. Since then politics means the social process that ensures active participation of individuals in public affairs and politics became the essence of democracy. However, the contemporary rise of right-wing politics in world’s largest democracy has generated a sense of exclusion among minorities, it creates fear, frustration and alienation among citizens belonging to minority groups, as a result they refrain from participating in politics and governance.

In India, under Modi-led BJP government, minorities are reluctant to participate in political discourse because of their segregation due to exclusionary politics and policies like National Register of Citizens (NCR). This kind of discriminatory attitude gives space to doubt, scepticism and intimidations among the political ‘other’. Such a treatment of minorities under ‘A Defacto ethnic democracy’(Christopher Jaffrelot: 2019) usually leads to a depressive democracy, where minorities are full of contempt, loosing their belief in system and become an easy target of ‘anti-politics’. In order to understand the nuances of ‘anti-politics’ in majoritarian democracy, this paper intends to understand why minorities are more prone to anti-politics and how right wing politics creates ‘the other’ through populist rhetoric of cultural nationalism. Methodologically, this study focuses on comparative historical analysis to explain contemporary political narratives and second to also looks into psychoanalysis for decoding populism.