Analysis

BJP vs Shinde & their Secular Credentials

It is indeed an irony that BJP leaders are fairly agitated over the silence of some Congress leaders and remarks of others. Addressing his first news conference after being selected as BJP president, Rajnath Singh expressed astonishment over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s “silence” over the “controversial” remarks made recently by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde regarding “Hindu terrorism.”

What cannot be missed is that this controversy hit headlines days before India’s 64th Republic Day. While India gained independence from the colonial rule on 15th August 1947, it was declared a Republic on 26th January 1950 following the adoption of its Constitution. More than six decades have passed but the Indian Constitution is not yet fully understood, according to which India is a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.”

While Shinde provoked criticism over his remarks about “Hindu terrorism,” intellectual Ashish Nandy faced the ire of certain political groups by claiming that weaker Hindu castes tend to be more corrupt. Undeniably, Shinde’s comments are linked with certain members of saffron brigade having indulged in terrorist activities, for which Muslims were earlier held responsible. However, in this case, why should the entire Hindu community be blamed for what members linked with saffron brigade are responsible?

It is to be analyzed whether Shinde deliberately commented on “Hindu terrorism” and then tried to distance himself from the same. Shinde has to a degree succeeded in exposing the “secular” claims of those linked with the saffron brigade. Of course, in his bid to do so, Shinde placed his own “secular” concern in the dock by linking the entire Hindu community with terrorism. Besides, it is debatable where do the same leaders now questioning Shinde disappear when Muslims as a community are blamed for terrorism? One may also deliberate on why has Shinde largely remained silent when innocent Muslims were being  unnecessarily blamed as terrorists even when he became the home minister?

Whenever a terrorist incident has taken place in India, without any evidence and even before a court pronounces them guilty, there has prevailed the trend of a few Muslims being booked and held as “terrorists”.

One is prompted to raise the question as to how many leaders have actually raised their voice immediately against the biased approach displayed towards Muslims? Besides, it is well-known that in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has indulged in violent activities, which may be labelled as terrorism, to drive non-Marathas out of the state. Again, why haven’t the same leaders raised similar hue and cry against Shiv Sena activists when they had gone berserk? Why haven’t they been pronounced as terrorists?

Indulging in terrorism or any action against any community on ground of its regional, religious, caste, class or any other affiliation can be described as nothing else but abuse of Indian democracy and secularism. Why have most such activities been practically ignored or sidelined?

This does not imply that crimes committed by Indians, whether they are Muslims, Hindus or whatever  community they belong to, should be ignored. They must be punished in keeping with the constitutional course of law and order. The error lies in their entire community being linked with crimes of some individuals. No Indian Muslim, Hindu or of any origin can claim to be representative of his/her entire community. So why should their religion, caste, class or region be linked with whatever crime they are held responsible for? No leader, whatever be his/her ethnic identity, can be held as representative of his/her entire community.

Besides, Shinde voiced concern about Hindu terrorism being promoted by the RSS and BJP. Without doubt, neither saffron brigade nor its political wing-BJP, can be held as representative of the entire Hindu community. Therefore, if these groups are linked with terrorism, this does not imply that all the Hindus are being linked with or blamed as terrorists. Similarly, the same logic must be applied while linking Islam and Muslims with terrorism. Yet, lapses in the Indian system continue to easily label the whole community as terrorists simply on ground of a few Muslims being blamed for terrorist incidents.

Of late, Indian Muslims have started protesting against the bias displayed towards them. However, some importance is given to their voice usually only when politicians are engaged in their electoral campaigning and is later gradually forgotten.
In this context, please take note of the alacrity with which various politicians have raised their voice and also taken action against controversial remarks made by Nandy.  This also suggests that secularism and democracy are still very alive and vibrant in India. But why hasn’t an equally strong voice been raised against Narendra Modi, Shiv Sena and other leaders who have targeted Muslims? Or does this imply that Indian democracy and secularism doesn’t give much importance to Muslims?

Ironically, the loud opposition raised by BJP leaders against Shinde’s remarks has exposed their weak secular standing as they have remained practically mute observers whenever Muslims have been blamed for “terrorist” activities and have been targeted by terrorists linked with the saffron brigade.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2013 on page no. 11

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