Political Monotheism

The Making of a Majoritarian State

Neshat Quaiser

Deeply disturbing suspension of 146 MPs is just a surface manifestation that is otherwise a reflection of a much deeper malady and requires a dispassionate discourse. The immediate cause may be to divert attention from the real or perceived near demolition of the myth of a seemingly invincible supremacist present ruling dispensation after the intrusion of the two youths even inside the Indian Parliament, unlike the 2001 Parliament attack.

The conditions of the production of what is happening around relate to Political Monotheism and the emergence of a designed politico-religiously propelled majoritarian state, unsure though from within, supported by the related social forces beneath the surface.

The ideology of political monotheism and the newly emerging state, which is never neutral and guided by the Constitutional ethos despite its claim to be so, acquire ontological centrality to explain the present Indian society and polity.

The idea of political monotheism was first conceptualized during the Tahrir Square (in a discussion in 2011 on a private TV Channel IBN7) movement to outline the shift taking place within the Islamist thinking that this writer characterized as being based on the ideology of political monotheism.

The concept of political monotheism is equally applicable to the ideology of Hindutva the mirror image of Islamism. Political monotheism signifies epistemological absolutism of an exclusivist politico-religious-theological hegemony and domination to establish a religiously majoritarian unitary state. Mono-vocality constitutes its hegemonic foundational mechanism as opposed to dialogical processes. To shift the focus from the extremely undesirable everyday social existence of the majority of the Shudra-Dalit disenfranchised population and the vulnerable high-caste middle classes in a state of unstable and egregious socio-economic material conditions, Hindutva political monotheism, with its myriad manifestations, is propelled through brazenly masculine populist authoritarianism to legitimize and normalize the Hindutva
ideological apparatuses, to instill in them a sense of belongingness to an otherwise antithetical unitary Hindu state. To appeal to the popular imagination of the majority and the religiously dispersed Hindu population and to produce homogeneousness through explicit or implicit coercion, the project of Hindutva political monotheism employs the ideology of scapegoats and emerges as the sole triumphal avenger of the injustices and oppression perpetrated on ‘Hindus’ by the foreign ‘invaders’ in the past which is responsible for the present plights of the ‘Hindus’ and the destruction of the Hindu Golden Past.

A Hindutva propelled politically monotheistic majoritarian state, thus, by definition has the political project to ‘govern’ people and institutions for its sustenance, continuation, and survival. However, this all-powerful, seemingly invincible state is never sure of the logic of its existence, as a result, it continuously must engage in such demonstrable acts–such as lynching of Muslims and enacting laws to suppress the voices of opposition–whereby it is seen as the ‘sole avenger’ not only to make the governed fall in line, but also assure itself of the legitimacy of the logic of its existence. Thus, the ideology of political monotheism and politically monotheistic state ultimately “petrify the true meanings of the subjugated free through the mechanism of choreographic occultation” to produce a petrified post-colonial Hindutva subject.

Thus ‘governing’, controlling, and gagging the media in all forms is also linked directly with the notion of governance of a politically monotheistic state, which is never neutral and guided by the Constitutional ethos despite its claim to be so. Thus, controlling of media is all about the question of establishing legitimacy of what is not legitimate, as the state is not viewed as the redeemer of its people. And much of the corporatized media today, in one or another way, is aligned with the ruling establishment and the ideologies that support it. However, some media would not like to fall in line. So, the state thoroughly detests the dissenting, the questioning media.

Similarly, the politically monotheistic state intervention in the constitution of law and justice and “judicial choreographic occultation resulting in petrification of true meanings of life, existence and freedom” is palpable.

In such a situation, to reclaim the seriously backsliding constitutional and civil democratic ethos robbing people of their right to be true citizens, a broadest possible non-dogmatic democratic alliance based on counter-institutive praxis to counter the communal-feudal-capitalist technologies of domination alone is the only way out. This is necessary to assert that democracy cannot be reduced to electoral politics alone so that creatively evolving constitutional and civil democracy can be reclaimed and politically monotheistic state’s technologies of domination can be answered.

[The narrator has taught in the Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University, Delhi. As told to Amit Sengupta]

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Vol 56, No. 49, Jun 2 - 8, 2024