Reviews

Foot soldiers of Hindutva: Cogs in the wheel

Shadow Armies: Fringe organisations and foot soldiers of Hindutva Dhirendra K. Jha Juggernaut ₹499  

At a time when activities of fringe right-wing outfits are under the scanner, political journalist Dhirendra K. Jha sets out to lay bare their existence within the core Hindutva universe.

In his book Shadow Armies: Fringe organisations and foot soldiers of Hindutva, Jha seeks to piece together the hidden links of all Hindutva organisations with the official Sangh Parivar. He argues that even as they are non-committal about these links, these fringe bodies do the “dirty work” of polarisation for the Sangh Parivar.

The reader may not fully get what the book promises. For instance, when he discusses organisations outside the Sangh Parivar, he stops short of bringing out the link that the title, much like the beginning of a detective story that promised to convincingly expose the crime but failed. For example, one gets to know little about how Sanatan Sanstha and the Sangh are organisationally linked. When he does—pointing out that Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is a former ABVP activist—he simply restates a connection we knew.

Where the links are clearer like those of Bajrang Dal, the VHP’s youth wing, with the Sangh Parivar, he does offer interesting details and anecdotes. He is spot on when he says that these organisations are not upfront in revealing these links. But, he takes a tacit leap from here: he presumes former connections or links as self-explanatory evidence of the relation of the acts of these various shadow armies to the Sangh without lighting up the purported shadows well enough.

Yet, the book will be useful for those who want details about individual, fringe right-wing groups. Those wanting to know more about Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Hindu Yuva Vahini should find this work informative.

Where the narrative really becomes weak is in the sweeping introduction. For example, it claims Hindutva is nothing but Brahmanism. A rigorous look at the pan-Indian history of Hindu Sangathan (consolidation) politics would not bear this out. Closer to the truth may be a formulation that Hindutva has both Brahmanical and anti-Brahmanical currents. Just as secularists could be either radical or conservative on caste, so could those who believe in Hindu consolidation. A case in point would be Swami Shraddhanand of the Arya Samaj, who was as radical on caste as one could get.

Jha also glosses over the fact that some of the most popular leaders of the BJP in the last 10 years, and, indeed, its most powerful leader Narendra Modi, are OBCs. He, however, captures Hindutva’s deep suspicion of Islam well enough.

Shadow Armies: Fringe organisations and foot soldiers of Hindutva; Dhirendra K. Jha, Juggernaut, ₹499.


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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 5:22:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/foot-soldiers-of-hindutva-cogs-in-the-wheel/article19140540.ece

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