5:49pm, 24th June, 2019
India is a representative democracy. The people of this country together cannot be at a single place at a single time to take part in the decisions that affect us. Therefore, we elect people who would represent us and engage in policy making on our behalf. As active participants of this nation, we trust these people and support them.
The atmosphere in the Parliament, where our elected representatives ensconce themselves, has to have vibes of a healthy competition. This particular atmosphere should be impartial in its treatment of representatives from different communities.
A rewind into some years, the hyper-fanatic religious chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Vande Matram’ were a rallying call on the streets of India by the uncompromising zealots. Although Hindutva still remains the ideological bedrock supporting the BJP’s existence as a national party, these rallies were devoid of the people from the mainstream political party. Rather, the fundamentalist stance were undertaken by Bajrang Dal, one of the most radical and extremist fringes of Bharatiya Janata Party.
The principle of secularism enshrined in our Constitution is emblematic of equal respect to all religions. However, the past few years have been an eye-opener and sent us in a state of shock. This bigotry has penetrated the walls of the Parliament , and religion once again becomes the ingredient of divisive politics.
On June 18, 2019, many ministers went for the swearing-in ceremony in the Lok Sabha . Asaduddn Owaisi was re-elected to the Lok Sabha for a fourth consecutive term from the Hyderabad seat. We see the sway of majoritarianism when he was interrupted with derisive comments and heckled with chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Vande Matram’. In response to the age-old, muscular and divisive Hindutva which weighed heavy in the Parliament, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) concluded his speech with – “Jai Bheem, Jai Meem, Takbeer Allahu Akbar, Jai Hind.”
The BJP is a right-wing political party which stresses on the need for political Hindu resurgence through any means possible. It wrongly constructs an imaginary notion of India, by trying to change the discourse on secularism and exploit religion and caste-based differences for electoral gain.
The ideology of Hindutva can only survive by homogenizing ideas, history, culture, gods and in this bid, the entire nation. This fascist project, in its process to create a Hindu rashtra, also reins in the multitude and diversity of ideas, cultures, faith and gods within the Hindus.
India is not, and will never be a single, homogenized rashtra. Nor can any particular religion/community predominate its plural landscape. It shall remain a peaceful coexistence of various languages, ideas, sects, religions and schools of thought.
To equate the ideology of Hindutva with the mainstream politics and play the religion card, only delineates how the fundamentalist approach is trying to foment discord and seclusion amongst people. A Muslim representative in this secular nation-state is as much deserving of the honor and respect as a Hindu. But there is no defence for the inclusive and plural ethos India stands for. Rather, democracy in the Narendra Modi government is under attack and facing a political authorization. The chants are symbolic of the majoritarian bullying and the strategic political message from them to the minorities. It is an overt use of religious symbolism that easily legitimizes hate and violence, and a complete disregard of the secular norms that India stands for. Because the BJP thinks itself as the sole custodian of national pride and security, anyone who speaks up for the Muslims, or against the violence in Kashmir, is tagged with the epithet “anti-national”.
The fact that India is wrongly imagined as mono-religious, mono-cultural and mono-lingual becomes the root cause of the polarized environment and the
emergence of a country divided by hate. A nation-state’s unstable and weakening condition is visible when regionalism and religious oppression becomes rampant.
The constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion seems to be set only in theory as the young generation is blindly imbibing the idea of bigotry and hatred ; thus creating violent, irrational and de-individualised participants. The concept of India is not reducible to a single faith. The complete polarization based on the politics of religion enables the radical elements to marginalize minorities.
India has a religious problem, and as far as the BJP retains political power, the sectarian line-up of the political conflict is to dominate the political landscape of India.