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Hindutva Regime in Assam

Hindutva Regime in Assam
Saffron in the Rainbow

  • Akhil Ranjan Dutta - Professor in the Department of Political Science, Gauhati University, Assam, India

August 2021 | 360 pages | SAGE India
Hindutva Regime in Assam: Saffron in the Rainbow analyses the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) strategy of appropriating cultural resources in Assam while pursuing the Hindutva agenda. In Assam, where numerous ethnic and regional political outfits have registered their electoral presence, the ‘Rainbow Alliance’ emerged as the dominant strategic tool for BJP in its electoral battles. The book studies how BJP has capitalized on people’s attachment to their ethno-regional cultures and has successfully co-opted and ‘saffronized’ the ‘Rainbow’ by bringing together diverse ethnic groups into its fold. Scrutinizing electoral strategies, BJP’s victories in 2014, 2016 and 2019, and the efforts towards dismantling consensus around the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the book provides a holistic view of this steady ‘saffronization’. It also critically investigates BJP’s populist development agenda.

From the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) grassroots work to the government’s policy initiatives, the book analyses the regime’s performance and ideological pursuits in depth. It highlights how BJP’s strategies in Assam are unique in some ways and how similar strategies can be seen elsewhere in India.

Foreword by Manoranjan Mohanty
From the ‘Rainbow’ to ‘Saffron’: BJP’s Changing Electoral Strategies
Unmaking the Consensus: The NRC Debacle
Hindutva at the Core: CAB-turned-CAA and Assam’s Political Destiny
Dream Seller’s Economy: Promises and Populism
Conservation, People’s Entitlements and National Security
Pandemic and Politics: BJP’s Electoral Prospects
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As I read Akhil Ranjan Dutta’s Hindutva Regime in Assam: Saffron in the Rainbow, I am reminded of the glorious tradition of writing buranjis or current histories in Assam. The book effectively infuses politics with history—long lost especially in political writings. Dutta views history not in a historicist way but as a practice that also contributes to the making of history. The beauty of the book lies in its quiet elegance, in informing the text with theory without loudly foregrounding it.

Samir Kumar Das
Professor in Political Science, University of Calcutta, India; Former Vice-Chancellor, University of North Bengal, Siliguri, India

By 2014, the BJP had already made headway in Assam. Its victory in 2016 marked a major shift in the state’s politics, challenging the consensus that sustained plurality of the state. Akhil Ranjan Dutta’s competent work provides detailed assessment of the BJP’s politics as the ruling party of Assam. Hindutva Regime in Assam: Saffron in the Rainbow is an important contribution because it meticulously shows how the BJP ruptured the consensus on key issues. The book is also important for the assessment of governance that predominantly operates in the dual universe of Hindutva and neoliberalism.

Suhas Palshikar
Chief Editor, Studies in Indian Politics Former Professor in Political Science, Savitribai Phule University, Pune, India

Akhil Ranjan Dutta’s Hindutva Regime in Assam: Saffron in the Rainbow is a meticulously researched book on politics in contemporary Assam. With the help of logical and intelligently crafted arguments, Dutta takes the reader along the different routes through which the BJP amassed power in Assam, riding on a populist strategy of appealing to an Assamese pride which overwhelmed the promised ‘rainbow’ with saffron nationalism. By examining the BJP’s strategies of negotiations and alliances in the electoral domain, the ‘resolution’ of contests over citizenship through the NRC and CAA, and the homogenization of plural imaginaries of the Assamese identity, the book explains both the rise of the BJP to power and the challenges it may face in the coming years. Lucid and accessible, this book is an important contribution to the study of politics in India in general and of Assam in particular.

Anupama Roy
Professor, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

“I very much enjoyed reading the book both because of its clarity and because it addresses core political science concepts. Once started, I could not put it down. I learned a lot about Assam and appreciate the insights the author provided.”

Walter Andersen
Former Professor, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

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ISBN: 9789391370411
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