What is with us Indians? Why are we so blasé’ about violence? Why do hooligans always get the better of us? As for our polity, their vacuous outpourings of angst or grief are just that. Vacuous. Why are we so hypocritical? Questions which bombard like staccato gunshots when we talk of Hindu-Muslim violence. Alongside how our polity is swiftly sinking into the marshy cesspool of bloodied religious intolerance.
Tragically, the Ram-Rahim wheel seems to have turned a full circle and communalism is once again the cause célèbre this week. The latest to earn this ignominy are 7 States: West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka and UP which were rocked with violence during Ram Navami celebrations after clashes broke out between Hindus-Muslims. Leaving a trail of blood with over 60 dead, 80 injured and 150 arrests, several vehicles and shops gutted resulting in Section 144 being imposed banned gatherings of four or more persons.
Trust stormy petrel West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee to allege Monday, “BJP not Hindus was deliberately taking out rallies, playing songs on loudspeakers and people were seen with arms in Hooghly district’s minority areas without permission. Why will there be Ram Navami processions for five days? One can organise several rallies on the day it is celebrated. We will have no objection.”
Countered the BJP the police were lackadaisical and refused to take action, Administration least bothered and waited till things went out of hand as goons control TMC. It demanded a NIA probe with Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserting “rioters will be hanged if we come to power in Bihar and Bengal.
Clearly, we are watching cut-throat communalism at work. Whereby, our netas have made creed the tour de force of Indian politics whereby the electoral incentive to use religion is too strong as it has electoral salience and appeal. Thus, in a milieu of competitive democracy which blots pledges of development, if politics based on religion ensures convergence of electoral booty and has better chances of polarising voters via processions and vicious speeches serenading Ram-Rahim inducing raw emotions of hostility and hate, so be it.
Who cares if it is destructive, stokes communal violence and sows seeds of rabid communalism? And no matter the nation is getting sucked into the vortex of centrifugal bickerings. Questionably, what do such incidents achieve? Zilch. Only the aam aadmi became targets. All forget that violence does not achieve anything and neither does insult of a creed.
Indeed, communal politics would be good if it ensured better quality of life for members of a particular community. But, it invariably turns into hate politics. This has been India’s experience over many decades and its consequences has been disastrous.
Undoubtedly, this ping-pong over who’s communal is scary. When selfish vote-banks politics dictate our polity’s political ideology, attitude and stance is fashioned according to the electorate’s diktat then all stand tarred by the same brush.
Recall, in a landmark judgment 2017 Supreme Court’s 7 judge Constitution Bench said, “No politician can seek vote in the name of religion or caste. If a candidate and their agents etc were found seeking votes in the name of religion or caste, it would be considered a corrupt practice under Section 123(3) Representation of People’s Act and if found guilty a candidate could be disqualified.
Of course, these guidelines are observed more in breach and the role of religion in politics has endured, if not grown stronger. Given Hindu-Muslim hostilities were a repeat of incidents last year too during Ram Navami festivities across several States.
Alas this repeated finger pointing between Hindus-Muslims reveal that all Parties boast its Political Terrorist. For power, they will go adopt diabolical machinations to create a communal divide. There is no desire to uphold equal respect for various faiths. Instead unashamedly use religion to increase their so-called popularity with voters.
Consequently, they want the present show to go on. Forgetting the State is neither anti-God nor pro-God. Be it Allah, Ram or Jesus. It is expected to treat all religions alike. But so caught up are all in their frenzied pursuit of political nirvana through separatism, that they confuse themselves and people – and, history itself. Converting religions gush into political slush!
Where do we go from here? Pander to rabid rabble rousers? Pander to the politics of vote banks? It all depends on whether the Government is willing to get rid of its excess baggage of isms Importantly, no quarter should be given to those who fan hatred among people and communities. Be it a Hindu fundamentalist or a Muslim militant. All are destroyers of the State, which has no religious entity. Thus, our moral angst cannot be selective but should be just, honourable and equal.
Undoubtedly, no matter what the provocation, the rule of law cannot be made to go for a toss. Nothing justifies violence or the call to commit violence in direct contravention of the law. If a Hindu has anger against his Muslim brethren or vice-versa they should take up the legal battle against them.
Said Nehru, “The combination of politics and religion, resulting in communal politics, is a most dangerous combination, and must be put an end to”. Alas, Parties and successive Governments have failed to draw a distinction between politics and religion.
The time has come to rid India from the stranglehold of religious prejudices and separate religion from the State else we will become another Iran or Saudi Arabia. Remember, the State is apolitical and has no religion except the Constitution. In the present political scenario if only our polity could segregate religion from politics the problem of communal violence would end.
To combat this will require iron political will, a compact between all Parties on no use of religion for vote-bank politics leading to communal violence and strict enforcement of legal deterrents. Unfortunately, India’s current fragmented political arena holds out little hope for such an eventuality.
The Ram Navami incidents should be yet another lesson to our polity to understand that by inciting Hindus-Muslims against each other they are only serving their vested interests. Communalism thrives on one community’s hate for the other along-with playing up the psychosis of retaliation.
In the ultimate our petty-power-at-all-cost polity needs to think beyond vote-bank politics and desist from playing the communal card for vote bank gains, look beyond the perilous implications of their decisions wherein the country is being pushed towards brazen communalism and delink religion from politics.
At the end of the day, when our polity does a cost-benefit analysis, they need to answer a simple question: Is their communal vote-bank politics really worth the price the country is paying? Who will bear the cross? Given India is a big country with enough room for all to live in peace and goodwill.
Let us not ignore the grim lessons of history. Or we shall end up condemning ourselves to repeating it. Neither Lord Ram nor will Allah will exonerate those who indulge in mayhem in their name. Our leaders must desist from using creed as a pedestal to stand on to be seen. India’s destiny is larger than the petty minds of communal forces. What gives? —– INFA