What is overton window? Has Indian politics shifted Right forever?

overton window

Rise of right wing politics has more or less forced other political parties, which would otherwise be secular, to adopt softcore right wing politics. The opposition is too trying its best to assert its own religious identity and not miss out. Like, Kejriwal sings Hanuman Chalisa and Rahul, a Shiva devotee. This is the concept of overton window in political science. But, the question is… Is this rightward shift the new center?

Firstly, what is Hindutva politics? It was popularized by V.D. Savarkar in 1923, an ideology that governs such bodies as RSS, BHP, VHP, etc. According to Savarkar, an individual can be identified by associations with fatherland and holyland. So, India is fatherland as well as holyland for Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh as per Savarkar. Muslim and Christian on the other hand call India only their fatherland so they can’t be trusted according to Savarkar.

Thus, Hinduism and Hindutva are poles apart. Gandhi rejected Savarkar’s Hindutva and openly advocated Hindu values such as Dharma, Truth, Tolerance and Devotion. Hindutva, on the other hand, remained a politico-religious ideology as per which faith is of utmost priority and needs urgent protection.

Ideologies influence vote and what are the opposition parties doing to tackle Hindutva? Overton window explains that… Overton window is a range of thought which is politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. For example, abrogation of Art.370 was by and large received positively, hence the move. At the same time: One Nation One Language initiative faced immediate backlash from the general public.

So, politicians avoid going against the scope of overton window because that would cost them their seat. Politics is a broad spectrum between Left and Right-it’s not just black and white. On the Left too, there is an extremist equivalent of the right so consider Politics a game like Tug of War between the two extremisms. Both sides wish to steal control of the rope, in other words, bring the overton window closer to their side so they may govern as per their thought and ideology.

Earlier, the burning issues were unemployment, inflation and women safety, today many claim unabashed support to a political party even if petrol crosses Rs 100 a liter because the overton window has been shifted to the Right (where the politician had wanted). In political terms, the unacceptable is slowly turned acceptable, by the help of continuous propaganda.

The overton window has been shifted from previous issues to now those of culture, heritage and identity. Also, people have been made to repulse by the very idea of Secularism, which is one of the foundations of our country. As a result, the secular parties too have changed their game. The opposition parties are trying to enter the shifted overton window to barely survive. This has been termed Soft Hindutva, by some experts. But over time, it would make all the political parties just different shades of the Right, because the overton window will have so shifted.

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