Tommy Robinson is at the forefront of growing collaboration between Hindutva organisations and the far right. Simon Dawson/Reuters

“The media slandered you as extremists, they attacked you, they sided with the radical Islamists […] that’s not going to change: none of them fear the Hindu community. The time for being scared is gone.”

This statement could have come from any politician in Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist government: a call to arms designed to strike fear into the hearts of Muslims (euphemised as “radical Islamists”). But this statement didn’t come from an Indian government minister. These were the words of Steven Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, in a direct-to-camera address to British Hindus.

Robinson’s one-and-a-half-hour interview with Op-India was conducted by the Indian media outlet’s editor-in-chief Nupur J Sharma, an ex-spokesperson for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sharma had reached out to Robinson following the violence in Leicester last September but was forced to postpone the broadcast following a public outcry at the attempted platforming of a founding member of the EDL. The interview was finally broadcast at the end of 2022 and has since been viewed almost 10,000 times. Multi-ethnic and internationalist – welcome to the new far right.

Hindu supremacism.

The term Hindutva was first coined 100 years ago by the Hindu nationalist politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. It is the animating ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the paramilitary that emerged in the 1920s with the aim of establishing total Hindu hegemony within India.

Disengaged from the struggle for independence from colonial rule, the RSS focused on cadre-building, establishing shakhas (cells) across the subcontinent, delivering political and spiritual education and training up street gangs. In this it was inspired by Mussolini’s blackshirts, as well as by Nazi models of “race pride”, obsessing over the construction of a new masculinity viewed as essential for building a Hindu rashtra (nation). The narrative that “Mother India” had been ravaged by Muslim men (constructed as aggressive and hyper-sexual) led to MS Golwalker, the second supreme leader of the RSS in the 60s, to state of his cadres that “more than anything else, mother needs such men – young, intelligent, dedicated and more than all, virile and masculine. Such are the men who make history – Men with a capital M.” Today, the RSS has approximately five million members.The current ruling party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) helmed by Narendra Modi, is its political wing.

Modi himself joined the RSS aged eight and was later assigned to the BJP by the leadership, eventually rising to general secretary. Modi was elected home minister of the state of Gujarat and oversaw the Muslim genocide of 2002, during which he stated that his only regret was poor media handling. Despite this, in 2014 he was elected prime minister. We are now nearing the end of the first decade of BJP rule in India – a decade of state-sanctioned Hindu supremacy.

Domestic ascendancy.

It is impossible to overstate the scale of fascist power in India today, where Hindu supremacists secure the arrest of dissident journalists for tweets; bulldoze Muslim settlements; ban schoolgirls from wearing the hijab; lynch Muslims suspected of consuming beef; destroy Muslim places of worship; and detain Muslim migrants. A state where programmes of coerced Hindu conversion run under the ghar vaapsi (returning home) programme; Sikh dissidents are tortured with the active collusion of foreign states; and Adivasis (indigenous or “tribal” people) are urged to side with their Hindu compatriots over the communists who have fought alongside them in the jungles, under which bauxite mines offer fertile opportunity for corporate profit. Where academics use the language of indigeneity and decoloniality to celebrate freedom from supposedly western frameworks of human rights and secularism.

And as Hindu supremacists inch closer to total hegemony in India, their networks in the diaspora are also growing – and finding unlikely allies.

This story was originally published in . Read the full story here