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The Rise of Extremist Far-right – From US to India

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Over the past few years, the world has seen a resurgence of the extremist far right as two of the world’s biggest nations were ruled by right-wing leaders. The U.S. saw a new wave of support for right-wing ideologies as President Trump governed from his seat at the Oval Office. India, the largest democracy in the world, still has a right-wing party ruling the country with unwavering support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is now serving his second term in office.

When we talk about the far right here, we do not necessarily mean violent extremism. We rather mean extremist ideologies that many right-wing leaders aim to propagate. It is hard to judge if these ideologies benefit everyone equally or are biased towards a particular section of society. How do these extremist far-right principles affect and change society as a whole?

There are different outlooks and perspectives that people have when answering this question.

However, it is not uncommon to see that right-wing extremist principles and propaganda do often give rise to intolerance, violence, and terrorism. It is true for the U.S., India, or any other nation for that matter. When an idea or prejudice is deep-rooted in people’s minds, they are intent on propagating that idea at any cost.

We can only try to better understand this rise of extremist far-right and what it means for the future of the world.

What is far-right politics or right-wing extremism?

The political spectrum all over the world is divided into the left and the right. Ideally, right-wing politics is supportive of the idea that certain hierarchies and orders of society are necessary, natural, and inevitable. This could mean support for the class system, caste system, or racial inequality.

They often present tradition, natural law, or economics as the basis of their ideas. In other words, support for any kind of conservative ideology may be considered right-wing. Left-wing politics, on the other hand, is considered more liberal.

Right-wing extremism or far-right politics is an extreme form of right-wing ideology, which means it is further right on the political spectrum.

Historically, the impact of far-right extremist ideologies like fascism and Nazism have been witnessed by the whole world. These were ultranationalist authoritarian ideologies that had some distinctive characteristics like dictatorial power, intolerance, forceful suppression of the opposition, and an extreme divide and segmentation of the society.

In democracies today, a dictatorial rule may not be possible. But there are still political parties and groups that harbor anti-communist, nativist, and ultranationalist ideas.

What is happening in world politics right now?

Right-wing parties have always been on the political scene throughout history. Modern politics in the U.S. has a two-party system comprising the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Of the two, the Democrats are considered the left-wing liberals while Republicans are seen as the right-wing conservatives.

Both parties have ruled the U.S. on and off. In the early 2000s and up to 2011, the Democrats were the largest political party in the country with a majority of more than 42 million voters, compared to 30 million Republicans. However, these numbers were shrinking for the Democrats. They were already 3.9% lower than what they had in 2008.

The Republican Party started as a liberal party itself, with Abraham Lincoln being elected as the first Republican President to campaign for anti-slavery laws. The party was founded by the Northern anti-slavery expansion activists and modernists. But today, the Republican Party supports a conservative platform that is based on fiscal and social conservatism.

After having had two terms with a Democrat President, Barack Obama, the sudden shift in the political scene of the U.S. with Donald Trump. His extreme right-wing nationalist ideas sweeping the country came as a surprise for many in 2017. But it was an indicator of a major shift in the way people think and vote.

In India too, the two major political parties, the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), fall at the two opposite ends of the spectrum. While the INC is labeled as the left-wing liberal party, the BJP is the more conservative right-wing here.

After being in power for almost 10 years, the INC was toppled by the BJP, and that too by a huge margin. India was swept by what they called the “Modi wave”, Narendra Modi being the face of BJP’s campaign and the Prime Ministerial candidate.

But what caused these striking transitions in people’s electoral behavior?

Why are people voting for extremist far-right leaders?

There is no right or wrong in who people choose to vote for. It would be narrow-minded to call one side of the political spectrum better than the other. But historically, far-right extremism is found to be more intolerant of its opposition and is likely to propagate radical ideas that can lead to hatred and violence. Then why are voters still choosing it over a relatively liberal government?

What happened in America

According to political theorists and social scientists, the reason for Americans to support ultranationalist ideologies was simple. They saw a threat from immigrants. As the U.S. has a huge demand for manpower in the fields of research, technology, software development, etc. they had to let people, mostly Asians, with relevant degrees immigrate to the country for work. There was also a growing perception that illegal immigrants were stealing the low-paying jobs of Americans by agreeing to work at far lower wages.

Then there were more triggers like the 9/11 attack that made every brown-skinned, bearded, turban-wearing man a suspect or a criminal. A huge recession due to the bursting of the housing bubble widened the gap between the rich and the poor. And to top it all, to the despair of those with a hidden racial bias, a black President ruled the country for two terms.

People who were already angry and afraid, had these feelings piling up and all they needed was someone who shared their ideologies. They saw their ideal leader in Trump.

What happened in India

For India, the story is a little different. India has always been ravaged by poverty and social inequality. The economic boom that India saw post-1980 did not help the poor but rather aggravated the inequality and divide. Unemployment and poverty continued to be a problem. Reservations in education and employment based on caste and tribe, that were laid down after Independence, were not revisited. This deprived many of quality education and jobs, despite their poor economic conditions.

The angst of the people against the government had been growing gradually. The government was always seen as corrupt, irrespective of which party was in power.

The BJP realized just what people wanted to hear at this point. Their campaign in 2014 was primarily focused on “development for all”. The powerful orator that Modi is, he mesmerized his audience with promises of bringing a transformation in the governance, ridding the country of corruption, and connected emotionally with his supporters.

The radical ideas of the party were being propagated by other sister organizations but were never openly put forward in BJP’s agenda. The divide between the Hindus and Muslims in India has always existed at different levels. The BJP being a primarily Hindu nationalist party could garner the support of the majority of Hindus as well.

What does this rise in extremist far-right mean for the world?

The real problem with any kind of extremist ideology is that it spews hatred against those who beg to differ. Right-wing extremism has led to political violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in the past and history is witness to the devastation it has caused.

Even in the present situation, extremist far-right ideologies are propagating violence and terrorism. In the U.S., the FBI itself acknowledges that domestic terrorism and racial violence motivated by extremism are on the rise.

India too has seen several instances of violence against minority groups, including the lynching of people merely because of their religious beliefs and lifestyle.

This should be proof enough that extremism and violence are never a solution to any problem, but are rather a greater source of problems. Nations have to find better ways to deal with people’s woes.

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BBC’s Modi Documentary Rattles Modi Government

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BBC Documentary on Modi

BCC recently released a documentary on India’s controversial right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi rattling Modi and his ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The documentary’s first episode titled “India: The Modi Question” which was released in the UK on 17th January drew a sharp reaction from the Modi government.

Modi Government Blocks the Documentary in India

The Modi government moved swiftly to block the documentary in India. Proving right the critics of IT Rules, 2021, the Modi government’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting invoked emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 to order YouTube to take down all the videos that had published the first episode of the documentary. Orders were also issued to Twitter to take down all the tweets that had posted the link to the documentary. Both YouTube and Twitter complied with the orders, removing all the posts and videos flagged by the government.

The government alleged that the documentary was found to be “undermining sovereignty and integrity of India, and having the potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign states”, which allowed for the invocation of the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. The government also alleged that the documentary questions the credibility of the Supreme Court of India and attempts to sow divisions among different communities while also making unsubstantiated allegations regarding the activities of foreign governments in India.


Earlier India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson dismissed the documentary as a “propaganda piece that lacks objectivity and reflects colonial mindset”. The spokesperson also questioned the timings of the release of the documentary.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

The Documentary

The documentary’s first episode produced by the BBC tracks Modi’s “first steps into politics”- his association with the right-wing Hindu extremist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), his rise through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and further his appointment as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat in 2001 till 2014. As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi’s involvement in and his response to a series of communal riots in 2002 remains a source of controversy.


The documentary highlights a previously unpublished report, obtained by the BBC from the British Foreign Office, which raises questions about Modi’s actions during the religious riots. The report claims that Modi was “directly responsible” for the “climate of impunity” that enabled the violence.


The report cited by the BCC was part of an inquiry ordered by the then foreign secretary Jack Straw. The reports say that “the extent of violence was much greater than reported” and “the aim of the riots was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”.
Jack Straw is heard in the documentary saying, “these were very serious claims that Mr Modi had played a proactive part in pulling back police and in tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists. That was a particularly egregious example of political involvement to prevent police from doing their job to protect the Hindus and the Muslims.”

Also Read: Gujrat Riots: Has Indian Democracy Breathed its Last?

Modi’s Role in Gujarat Riots of 2002

It is the documentary’s highlight of the Gujarat riots of 2002 that has rattled the Modi government.


The Gujarat riots of 2002 claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people. Most of those killed were Muslims. Modi is alleged to have instigated the riots and further prevented the police and the army from taking any action to stop the riots. Most of the reports published on the Gujarat riots by the Indian media as well as the international media point out Modi’s direct role in facilitating the riots. It has been claimed that Modi gave a free hand to Hindu extremists to kill Muslims and the aim was to purge Hindu localities of Muslims.


Modi has rejected these accusations. Further, in 2013 an investigation approved by the Indian Supreme Court absolved Mr. Modi of complicity in the rioting. Based on that finding, a court in the state of Gujarat found that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Also Read: Why BJP is Fascist Despite Contesting Elections.?

Action Taken by Foreign Countries against Modi

Like the above-cited British Foreign Office report, there were many countries that were convinced of Modi’s role in the killing of Muslims during the riots. Concerned countries acted against Modi at different levels.


Modi was banned entry into the U.S. for more than a decade for his role in the riots. In 2005, Modi became the only person ever to be denied a U.S. visa under the 1998 law on violations of religious freedom. The U.S. State Department invoked a little-known U.S. law passed in 1998 that makes foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for visas. The ban on Modi’s travel to the U.S. was revoked by the Obama administration in 2014 after he became the prime minister of India.

Also Read: How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir

A Permanent Stain on Modi’s Career

Modi may have achieved great things in his political career, but the stain of the Gujarat riots is permanent on his career.


Modi loves the camera. He loves advertising and branding himself. Modi puts his picture on everything. He loves hearing his voice. However, ever since he became the prime minister of India, he has never given an unscripted interview to the media. He has also never held a press conference in India or abroad. It has been claimed that Modi does not want difficult questions about his attitude towards the Muslim minority of India thrown at him.

When Modi became the prime minister of India, Indian liberals were hopeful that Modi had changed. They were wrong in their assessment that Modi as a prime minister would be inclusive. However, after Modi’s eight years as a prime minister now, he has not changed his attitude towards Muslims. As of now, Muslims are increasingly persecuted by his government.

This author highly recommends that you watch the BBC documentary on Modi. Its first episode has been released here (if you are outside the UK watch it here or use VPN). The next episode will be available on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 21:00.

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Double standards haunt FIFA

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morocco players abdelhamid sabiri with palestinian flag

At this year’s FIFA World Cup, Palestine is still represented. Moroccan players carried the Palestinian flag with pride at every victory in their matches.

morroco team celebrates with palestine flag
Morocco players pose with the Palestinian flag

Morocco’s public carried Palestinian flags and chanted Palestinian songs at the same time.

Moroccan-Israeli normalization

According to reports, US President Donald Trump announced Morocco and Israel’s agreement to normalize and establish diplomatic relations, making it the fourth Arab country in just four months to do so.

morocco and Israel peace statement
Israel and Morocco officials sign peace agreement

And while this coincided with the United States’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, the “Agence France Presse” agency said, “Morocco confirms the resumption of diplomatic relations as soon as possible with Israel.”

Also Read: Israel is Hiding Crucial Demographic Facts About Palestinians

Morocco witnessed widespread protests rejecting normalization and abandoning Palestine and the resistance, and the Moroccan leaders considered that this is not considered normalization, but an alliance to facilitate the problems between Palestine and Israel.

wide protests in morocco against Israel agreement
Moroccans protest against Israel agreement

A sizable portion of the populace continues to oppose normalization and remain steadfast in their protest both inside and outside the World Cup stadium.

Double Standards

The German national team expressed its anger since the first match after Qatar and FIFA banned the wearing of the LGBTQ badge in matches and considered the German team and the German government a flagrant violation of freedoms. Despite this, a German official wore the gay badge in a subsequent match, not interested in the laws of Qatar and FIFA as a matter of freedom of opinion and expression.

German national team cover their mouth against lgbtq ban
German players cover their mouth in protest

However, after the Morocco-Spain match, the Moroccan national team raised the flag of Palestine, German newspapers criticized the act, saying that it and the German newspaper “Taz” criticized the Moroccan national team’s players raising the Palestinian flag, describing it as “anti-Semitism and a childish challenge to show the alleged Arab unity,” she said.

Also Read: The World Cup in Qatar and Die-hard Western Racism

The German newspaper also attacked the Qatari government, claiming that it supports terrorist resistance movements in waging wars against Israel for years.

The funny thing is that the German side wants to infringe on the freedom of expression and opinion of the Moroccan team, and the freedom of opinion and expression only stands for them.

(UKLFI) protests against FIFA

Famous pro-Israel advocacy group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) has voiced opposition to the Moroccan football team’s display of the Palestinian flag during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

 The Jewish Chronicle reports that the London-based organization accused the North African nation of breaking FIFA regulations in a letter to Jorge Palacio, the chair of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

After the denunciations of banning alcohol and wearing the LGBTQ badge, expressing that this is a flagrant violation of freedom of opinion and expression, everyone hastened to attack the Moroccan team, which raised the Palestinian flag in solidarity with it against the Israeli aggressions and the ethnic cleansing that Palestine endures and the daily martyrdom in Palestine.

 Palestine will remain present in the stadiums, lands, and hearts of everyone, despite all the challenges and attacks it suffers daily.

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Why BJP is Fascist Despite Contesting Elections.?

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India BJP is a fascist party

This article is a detailed analysis of why India’s ruling party BJP is a fascist party. It analyses BJP using the literature on fascism.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is a political party but it traces its roots in a social and cultural movement called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). RSS was founded in Nagpur in 1925 by K.B. Hedgewar. Hedgewar was inspired by Savarkar who had written Essentials of Hindutva (1921-22)in which he had given a framework on how Hindus can be united based on kinship. While Savarkar vouched for electoral politics but RSS, against his wishes began as a social and cultural organization that was against participation in electoral politics.

After the killing of M.K. Gandhi, RSS was banned from February 1948 till July 1949. The ban was a setback to RSS and it was accompanied by two other shocks- the death of all the two Hindu nationalists’ voices in the parliament. Syama Prasad Mookerjee who had earlier been associated with Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha resigned from the cabinet as the Industry Minister in April 1950. Just after eight months, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel died. The ban on RSS after the death of Gandhi had got RSS thinking that they would need their own supporters in the parliament and the government. Now that their two sole voices in parliament were lost, they needed a new political insurance policy.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee approached RSS for support in establishing a new political party and on 21 October 1951, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed. RSS deployed its important members to the party and most of the powerful positions inside the party were held by RSS men. The first major impression that Jana Sangh would make as a political party at a national level was after the Emergency of 1975. There were protests against the government in 1975 and Jana Sangh along with RSS and other anti-Congress groups formed an amalgam called Janta Front to take on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In June, Indira Gandhi declared an emergency, and RSS was banned again. After the end Emergency in 1977, Janta Front was converted into Janta Party and they fought elections, winning a majority- 298 seats out of 542 all over India. Despite all the concessions given by the majority partner Jana Sangh, there was an internal rift in Janata Party and in July 1979, some of the parties left Janata Party, which was followed by new elections in which Congress won a clear majority.

One of the reasons given for the fall of the Janta Party government was that Jana Sangh members were holding dual membership- RSS and Jana Sangh- to which some people in Janta Party had objected but Jana Sangh rejected the demands to give up the RSS membership. Thus, Jana Sangh formed a new party named Bhartiya Janata Party in April 1980. Like Jana Sangh, most of the leaders in the BJP come from RSS.

In the 1996 general elections, BJP won 161 seats and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by BJP came into power for the first time. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a member of RSS was chosen as Prime Minister but the government only lasted for 13 days. Vajpayee became prime minister again in 1998 and then from 1999 until 2004. After emerging victorious in the 2014 and 2019 elections, BJP chose Narendra Modi, again an RSS member as the prime minister.

Therefore, all the prime ministers of BJP governments till now have been RSS members. It is thus for these reasons that the ideology of RSS and BJP are the same. Any analysis of the ideology of the BJP as a political party will inevitably lead to the analysis of the ideology of the RSS.

This article is based on the premise that “fascist ideology is actually only a pastiche of motifs, it is a pastiche of different ideological currents” and that “it has very little coherence on its own”. Therefore, the article without going into the definition of fascism analyses BJP and RSS on the basis of their ideology and argues that despite contesting elections, BJP is a fascist party.

It goes into the question of why the RSS chose to get into politics after the initial anti-politics philosophy and uses Jairus Banaji’s concept of “electoral fascism”. Further, it takes up the recent general elections of 2014 and 2019 where the BJP sought votes in Modi’s name and argues how it is for the first time that BJP for the first time built a Führer cult similar to that of Hitler.

Also Read: What is wrong with BJP’s Appropriation of Sardar Patel?

RSS Ideology and Fascism

It would be important to first go into the ideology of RSS. The ideology followed by RSS is not entirely its own since the Hindu Mahasabha’s Savarkar played an equally seminal role in forging its main elements.

The ideology is that of extreme nationalism “that was embodied in different ways in Savarkar and Golwalkar (who as the head of RSS was involved in formation of Jana Sangh) and encapsulated India’s version of a fascist utopia ethnically cleansed or purged of its ‘alien’ elements”.

Further, “everyone knows that both propagandists were deeply influenced by the Nazi extermination of the Jews and took that as their model for the way Muslims would have to be dealt with, in principle anyway”. Savarkar’s main argument in his book is to justify that Hindus and Muslims are a separate nation. In his exclusionary definition of a Hindu, Savarkar writes that a Hindu is “he who looks upon the land that extends from Sindu to Sindu – from the Indus to the Seas,-as the land of his forefathers —his Fatherland (Pitribhu)” shares a “common classical language Sanskrit and represented by a common history, a common literature, art and architecture, law and jurisprudence, rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, fairs and festivals; and who above all, addresses this land, this Sindhusthan as his Holyland (Punyabhu)”. This definition asserts that besides being bound by geography, culture, and language, Hindus are also bound by a common history.

At another point in the book, Savarkar writes that a Hindu is one who “has inherited and claims as his own the Hindu Sanskriti, the Hindu civilization, as represented in a common history, common heroes”. He clearly mentions that though these things might not be common to all Hindus, a Hindu “has more of it common with his Hindu brothers than with, say, an Arab or an Englishman”. Savarkar also contends that all those Hindus who have converted to Islam, their “heroes and their hero-worship, their fairs and their festivals, their ideals and their outlook on life, have now ceased to be common with ours”. He dismisses the common culture among Muslims and Hindus as trivial and of no importance to the concept of a nation.

He writes about Muslims of Kashmir and Christians in South India who “observe our (Hindu) caste rules to such an extent as to marry generally within the pale of their castes alone” but dismisses them from being considered a part of the Hindu nation because “they cannot be called Hindus in the sense in which that term is actually understood, because, we Hindus are bound together not only by the tie of the love we bear to a common fatherland but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilization—our Hindu culture” and the “history of our race”. He further states that Hindus “are one because we are a nation a race and own a common Sanskriti (civilization)”.

This example of Muslims following a Hindu tradition but still not considered Hindus dismisses all these common traditions as trivial with no considerable contribution towards the formation of a nation. Hence, it can be said that RSS ideology is similar to that of Nazism. For Nazis, they purged Germany of Jews while RSS aims at purging the holy land of India of its Muslim ‘alien’ elements. RSS model for the creation of a homogenous Hindu nation essentially matches that of Nazi Germany.

Also Read: India Bans Islamist Organization PFI

Counterargument to BJP’s Fascism

Now one of the main counterarguments to BJP and RSS being described as fascists is that fascists once in power, destroy the electoral and parliamentary system but BJP always has participated in and upheld these systems. Jairus Banaji argues that RSS practices a kind of fascism that can be called “electoral fascism” which appeals to racism and xenophobia to mobilize electoral support. The anti-political philosophy that RSS followed for at least the first 25 years of its foundation also needs to be factored in.

For all these years RSS had successfully resisted getting involved in politics. However, as mentioned earlier, RSS took to politics as an “insurance policy” for its existence. Therefore, politicization was an answer to the existential threat. What follows from this argument is that RSS did not join politics because it wanted to bring in change through parliament by implementing its policies based on its ideology.

The fear came from the fact that it needed to preserve its own organization so that it could carry out its cultural and social activities unhindered. So, it does not appear that RSS took to politics for the sake of politics but it got into politics to guarantee itself that it could carry out its background activities of ‘cultural and social importance.

This would also raise the question: does RSS believe in the electoral processes? From the discussion, it can be inferred that yes RSS does believe in the electoral process but it has been following the electoral process for very different reasons than what we usually associate it with- democracy. RSS’ sole motive for participating in the electoral process is safeguarding itself against bans. Now the “insurance policy” would be needed only if the RSS is very much aware that it would get banned again at some point. That would mean RSS is using the electoral process to protect its activities from coming under government scrutiny because its activities cannot be encouraged or approved by a government that is not RSS itself.

Also Read: Is This the Ultimate Solution to Rising Islamophobia in India?

Building a Führer cult

Further, recently during the 2014 general elections, BJP for the first time asked for votes in the name of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. It was a huge success and the phenomenon of attracting voters by using his name was called “Modi Wave”. RSS till now had always discouraged a leadership cult but “with the repeated acclamations of Modi as the next prime minister, this seems to be changing now, for it is the first time this political sector has found a figurehead around whom to build a Führer cult”. The building of a Fuhrer cult is again straight out of the Nazi playbook. As Ian Kershaw points out that the Hitler cult was the ‘crucial adhesive’ of the Nazi movement, its ‘integrating mechanism’. Similarly, Modi’s name was used as an integrating mechanism to attract voters to one name of Modi in the BJP.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

Conclusion

This essay thus argues that RSS joined politics as an “insurance policy” to safeguard its activities. It questions as to why RSS would need protection against any other government that is not RSS. The creation of BJP is followed by its predecessor Jana Sangh which was itself created in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mookerjee with the help of RSS. Further, the creation and the ideology of RSS itself are traced in Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva. The ideology is then compared to that of Nazi Germany. Then, the phenomenon of the “Modi Wave” of the 2014 general elections is compared to that of the Fuhrer Cult of Nazism. Using these arguments and coupled with Jairus’ term of “electoral fascism”, it is concluded that BJP is indeed a fascist party despite its participation in electoral processes.

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