Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 December 2021
The main domains of Indian politics intersecting with religion are communal riots, elections and secular laws. To respond to ‘why and how’ religion matters in Indian politics, the chapter analyses the national habitus shared by all political and religious elites which was conceived both as Hindu and secular, therefore clashing with the people’s identification at the local level where class, cultural and religious allegiances were at play. The redefinition of the local communities along religious lines introduced by the nation-state is a critical factor in the rise of riots and of the BJP. The rise of Hindu nationalism, the contestation of national history, the sacred sites, and the status of women are analysed as main sites of politicization.