Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, visited Ayodhya on Sunday and made a statement that reflects the ideology of his party, Shiv Sena, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to him, both parties intend to spread the saffron flag across the state come 2024. Shinde noted that his partys mandate was very clear in its alliance with the BJP: to propagate the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva.
Shinde further remarked that it was necessary for Shiv Sena to return to its ‘natural ally’ – the BJP in order to uphold the ideology of Hindutva. His decision to move away from Uddhav Thackeray’s maintained neutrality from the party to an open alliance with the BJP has come with both criticism and support.
The Shiv Sena, founded by the late Bal Thackeray, has always held a strong ideology of Hindutva. Mass protest and deep resentment within the Shiv Sena were sparked when Uddhav formed an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. Thus, Shinde’s Hindutva stance has created ripples within Maharashtra politics towards the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP is a right-wing political party with a focus on nationalist ideology. It’s most vocal supporters are found amongst the proponents of the ideology of Hindutva, a term coined by the party for its Hindu nationalist ideology of using the religious language of Hinduism for a homogenous political movement. The BJP is one of the most prominent and influential political parties in India and its members have been repeatedly accused of promoting an atmosphere of hatred and intolerance against minorities.
Eknath Shinde meanwhile has been seen as a key figurehead of the party’s Hindutva push which is being viewed as an attempt to strengthen his position in the alliance with the BJP. He has unabashedly expressed his faith in Hindutva and praised the power of its ideology. Hence, it seems that Shinde is indeed greasing the wheels of the Hindutva wagon in the state of Maharashtra.