The last occasion I witnessed this was the Ayodhya movement. Till L.K. Advani's rath yatra in 1990, cosmopolitan India treated the fuss over Ram's birthplace with sneering contempt. It was blind to the raw emotions unleashed in the hinterland, a phenomenon that was dismissed as 'false consciousness'.
Anna Hazare and Ramdev appeal to two distinct social classes
By Swapan Dasgupta
There is nothing as yet to indicate that Ramdev is likely to trigger a similar explosion of sentiment. Yet, the yogic entrepreneur has succeeded in extending the reach of the anti-corruption movement into the deep interior of the Hindi heartland. He has complemented a modernist unease with corrupt governance with populist anger against a venal, elitist order—note how his demand to secure the return of black money stashed in foreign shores was cleverly twinned with the demand to replace English with the vernacular. Ramdev has triggered the revolt of the outlander.
The Hindu faith has traditionally been caste-based and localised. Yet, there has been a congregational undercurrent that has subsumed these divisions. Over the past two decades and thanks in no small measure growing TV viewership, a new congregational faith has injected a new energy into the Hindu universe. Particularly noteworthy is the growing marginalisation of the Brahmanical order. Ramdev, a Yadav by caste, personifies this phenomenon. The Congress may have miscalculated by declaring total war on him.