A majority of Indians, regardless of their denominational leanings, would agree that what happened in Gujarat post-Godhra was a blot on the state, whichever way one looks at it. In spite of several commissions of inquiry and investigations, the link to the Gujarat Chief Minister was never established.
Whether he should get the benefit of the doubt or whether he could have acted more aggressively to stop the carnage will remain an unanswered question and should continue to weigh on his conscience; having said that, there have been bigger carnages in the past. For example, the killing of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in much larger numbers after the assassination of Indira Gandhi was an unsurpassed abomination that happened at the national level. What is more, without doubt it was directly initiated and orchestrated by Congress leaders. Central government agencies in the capital could easily have stamped it out within the first few hours, had anyone in authority given the call to do so. This did not happen. Since the young Prime Minister himself seemed to have blessed it with his infamous statement, nobody in authority lifted a finger to call a halt to the madness. Many senior Congress leaders of the time were personally accused of fuelling the frenzy of killing that lasted over several days.
The point being highlighted here is different. Not one Congress leader starting from the PM was ever accused of being ‘non-secular’ at that time or to this day. Yet, from the moment news of the killing in Gujarat became known, practically everyone in the Congress and the media aligned to the party accused Narendra Modi of being non-secular. What is forgotten is that many BJP leaders including A B Vajpayee were dumb struck at what had taken place, as were the large majority of Hindus. If any proof were required as to which set of people are truly secular, in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections held shortly after the Gujarat carnage, people rejected the BJP and voted the Congress to power – this in a state where the overwhelming majority of the population professes the Hindu faith.
It is indeed sad that since the UPA came to power a decade ago, the country has been increasingly polarised into the secular – non-secular divide. As the country moves towards the next general election, this pernicious secularism agenda will remain the order of the day. It is being pushed on to the public consciousness almost on a daily basis at the behest of the UPA apex.
Evidently, among other reasons that need not be outlined here, the electoral reason to do so becomes compelling for the dynasty that is on the back foot on practically every aspect relating to the country’s governance: decision-making paralysis, breakdown of law and order, security and well-being of the people.
Corruption directly under the patronage of the highest in the land has assumed proportions that have hollowed out India and nearly turned it into a basket case; since this can simply not be explained away by any false propaganda, the tried and tested secular agenda will be kept in the forefront till the next general election and beyond.
And should the dynasty be worsted, as increasingly looks to be the case, explanations for the rout will again be laid at the door of this pernicious theme. Therefore, as political compulsion, nay political survival, the polarisation will be deepened and perpetuated.
It is high time the people of India saw through the pernicious game that primarily suits the dynasty and its closest advisers. The very brazenness of putting this agenda on the mast, practically at par with the national flag, should have been nailed by most thinking Indians by now.
How on earth could anybody, other than a foreigner, have dared to attempt to divide India along these lines when the only religious tradition in the world that from time immemorial has extolled syncretism took birth in India’s sacred soil? Is there any Indian who has not heard of Vasudaiva Kutambakam. This is perhaps the only ideology and philosophy that since millennia has embraced pluralism to its bosom. Every religion has been welcomed with open arms in the country and flourished here.
The two major religious denominations that conquered the world in the preceding millennia, on the other hand, butchered their way to expansion and world dominance and in several cases and never professed syncretism of the type imbibed in the all the Vedic dispensations that took birth on the soil of India.
The quality of secularism being practiced by current rulers in Delhi was highlighted by the recent bomb blasts in Bodh Gaya. Along with relatively tepid condemnation, a case was being made to suggest the blasts were the direct result of the killing of Rohingyas in Myanmar. How does that justify the attempted destruction in India of Budhhism’s most sacred place? Has the same analogy been applied by these apologists to similar crimes elsewhere?
It may come as a surprise to these leading votaries of secularism on Indian soil that to date – at least in the UPA-led decade – only Hindus have been branded as being non-secular. No non-Hindu leader, even when preaching hatred from the most renowned pulpits in the land, has been branded as being non-secular. The irony is evidently lost on leaders who persist in persevering with the divide.
The greatest curse that the ruling dispensation could have visited upon the country in which it has prospered beyond its wildest expectation is to divide it along secular and non-secular lines. Possibly as a parting kick, because after this obnoxious exercise the chances of this dispensation ever again wielding such enormous power have faded, even become non-existent, irrespective of whether the non-secular Narendra Modi makes it to Delhi or not.
The writer is Convener, Movement for Restoration of Good Government.