Is there a difference between the two?
Basically both are same – one worships individual and the other ideology.
But there are a few important differences.
In an ideology politics-dominated state, people appear more politically aware and active. But it is a façade. In reality they are tutored in a particular discourse, which they parrot about in varying hues and shapes.
In ideology-politics, there is less focus on development but more emphasis on culture, freedom and conceptual sword fights. Ideology politics is more cultural than material in approach. This applies to both Hindutva and leftism. Bengal and Kerala are prime examples -- people there are politically active but are lacking in basic facilities and are concerned less about development and wealth creation and more about settling ideological scores. In this sense ideology politics is very vedhic in approach – celebrating the abstract and forsaking the concrete.
Let me give two examples. West Bengal has the largest Red Light district. Police and politicians connive with brothel owners to let the flesh trade flourish. Thousands of innocent and helpless women are trafficked into the district and sold to these brothels, where they are threatened and pressurized to comply. A pro-left Bangla friend of mine argued that West Bengal treats its sex workers with dignity and police do not bother them like in other states because of the general liberal culture prevailing in the state. My question to him is this: isn’t there a better and safer way of working with dignity?
But ideology blinds you to the extent of singing praise of state-sponsored prostitution. For him culture of liberalism is more important than safe living condition for women. Food is less important than thought.
In Maharashtra, beef ban is a result of a strong ideological stand, though rightist in nature. Scores of farmers are reeling in economic crisis because of this ban since they cannot sell their unmaintainable cattle. They are pressurized to spend on cattle that do not serve them anymore. The farmers are angry and seething. Meat is imported from neighboring state, and Maharashtra’s local trade suffers. The root-level politicians realize this. But they cannot ask the BJP leadership to revoke the ban since it is a core ideological issue.
Ideology politics blinds people and make them easy prey to irrationalism. They fail the see ground reality and encourage and participate in violence. In India much violence – riots and pogroms - has happened in states where leftists or BJP have dominated, whether it is Bengal, Kerala, or Gujarat.
Hero-worship or non-ideological politics is more grounded, materialistic and people-oriented. There may be rampant corruption, sycophancy and administrative apathy. But unrest, instability and violence do not constantly unsettle people in states of non-ideological politics. That is a huge relief and creates right climate for development.