Hamas Victory and the BJP

Yesterday’s election of Hamas reminds me (and a lot of other bloggers) of the BJP’s 1998 electoral victory in India.  The BJP’s big ’98 win was profoundly disturbing for us secularist Hindus because it promoted Hindutva, the Hindu fundamentalist ideology that endangers India’s success as a secular democracy.  At that time, I had just returned from India and seven months of studying the Hindu nationalist movement.  It was frightening to think that a majority of Indians accepted Hindutva’s history of anti-Muslim violence and very conservative cultural worldview.
However, it wasn’t as bad as we thought… the election of the BJP seems to have been a signal to the long-time Congress party, whose 50 years of power had left the population wanting.  The BJP’s election led to major mainstreaming of the Hindu fundamentalist movement – the BJP itself had to disavow violent parts of its history and cut off many of its extremist partners in a move to the center.  It also had to contend with actual governance instead of mere protest and pandering from the sidelines. 
Check out State of Flux for more on the pro-democracy side of the debate (a bit too much like President Bush’s rhetoric on Iraq for my tastes, but makes some good points…)
And Pakora Corner and Patrix… 

Also check out Interfaith Paths to Peace for some valuable arguments about how elections like the recent Palestinian one will affect us in the U.S. in the short-run:

“For democracy to continue, the BJP had to moderate itself. The BJP came in trying to use Indian democracy to take total power, but it was Indian democracy that in the end conquered the BJP.  And the lesson for us is that if democracy is strong, if we commit to the process and to the arena, we have to trust in the fact that democracy ultimately will win. But the challenge for the U.S. is that the short run is likely to be ugly.”

Although it may be ugly for us in the short-term, we’ve unleashed the power of democracy in the Middle East.  We can’t just take it back when it’s inconvenient for us.  The people of Palestine have sent a message that they want good governance and peace.  Let’s not label them all terrorists.  Let’s listen and watch carefully as they form a government and define a platform.  All Americans can look to the BJP example and hope that the same moderating effect happens with Hamas… 

One Response to “Hamas Victory and the BJP”

  1. Pran Says:

    Good to know that I am not the only one who found a similarity with the BJP coming to power! I honestly think that this change might be for the better. Its very hard for Hamas to promote extermism and violence when in power. With Mahmud Abbas still around (though his resignation is being sought) it might actually serve as a good balance though he might come across as a light weight now that his party is no longer in power.

    Remember it was the BJP that made Abdul Kalam (a muslim) the President of India! You never know, lets hope Hamas turns in some surprises.

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