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Hypocrisy Of Secularism
By Poonam I Kaushish
When one rides a tiger it is difficult to dismount. A saying which aptly nails our politicians’ quandary when it comes to their reactions to ‘hate speeches’. All depends on which side of the secular-communal coin one is. Either way on looks at it, Andhra’s Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) 42-year old MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi callous speech full of hatred exposes the pseudo-secularism espoused by various Parties!
He went on a tirade against the Hindus in a rash two-hour long speech against the Congress Kiran Kumar Reddy Government and how it has been discriminating against Muslims last month. The immediate provocation was the State Government’s refusal to remove the illegal temple, which has cropped up on the outer wall of the historic Charminar.
Calling the Hindus “impotent” and the police an “impotent army”, he averred, “Remove the police for 15 minutes, we 25 crore Muslims will finish off the 100 crore Hindus.” Worse, he wondered why Gujarat Chief Minister Modi had not been hanged when terrorist Ajmal Kasab had been sent to the gallows. The reason, he explained was only because Kasab was Pakistani and Modi Indian.
More scandalous he incited the minority community, “Agar Hindustan ke saare Musallman ek ho jain toh Kasab ke tarah Modi jald he phansi par latakta hua dekhia degha. Pakistani ne 200 Hindus mare to usko fansi aur Hindu Modi 2000 Musalmanon ko mare toh usko Delhi ki gaddi.” Threatening, that if his words were not heard, “O India, destruction and ruin will be your fate”. Sic.
True, like his brother Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi from Hyderabad Akbar has a track record of making inflammatory speeches. But till a few months ago, when the MIM was a part of Reddy Government, none batted an eyelid when the brothers raised the communal temperature. Besides, such speeches have been heard from both the communities.
Arguably, can one dismiss his speech as routine in Andhra politics? Seen in the context of the changing political situation in the State? Isn’t Owaisi’s Hindu bashing one of his weapons to unite the Muslim vote entirely in its favour with Assembly polls scheduled for 2014? Why has it not evoked strong reactions from various Parties?
True, one can fault him on his harsh language, innuendoes, call it too blunt for the political palate even dismiss it as him being brash. But the fact is the Andhra MLA’s intemperate language is no different from what other politicians have said before. Remember, the Hindutva-driven communalism championed by the likes of Bajrang Dal leader Togadia, Lok Sabha MP Adityanath, VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Shiv Sena’s Udhav Thackeray, and his cousin MNS’s Raj et al.
What to speak of the ‘other’ Gandhi scion, BJP’s Varun who was hauled up by the courts for a hate speech during the Lok Sabha 2009 elections. “If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, there is nobody behind them, I swear on the (Bhagvad) Gita that I will cut off that hand”.
And, the UP Minister who promised a reward of Rs 50 lakhs to anyone who beheaded the Danish cartoonist who showed the Prophet in bad light. Why were our secular leaders mum? Recall also, the hullaballoo by the Samajwadi Party known for its soft corner for the minority community calling the killing of the Indian Mujahideen terrorists in 2008 by a police braveheart as a ‘fake encounter’? And why were our pseudo-secularists silent when Sonia called Modi “maut ke saudagar”.
Alas, we are watching cut-throat communalism at work. Whereby, our netas have made the Muslim vote-bank the tour de force of Indian politics. With every leader propounding his self-serving recipe of ‘communal’ harmony harbouring the same intention: To keep their gullible vote-banks emotionally charged so that their own ulterior motives are well-served. No matter, the nation is getting sucked into the vortex of centrifugal bickerings.
Raising several questions: Are our notions of secularism selective? How does one control the hate mongers and blunt them? Has our polity realized the ramifications of their actions? Given that it would not only further divide the aam aadmi on creed lines and is also antithetical to any hope of narrowing India’s burgeoning religious divide, thereby unleashing a Frankenstein.
Clearly, in a milieu of competitive democracy, if caste politics ensures convergence of electoral booty, politics based on religion has better chance of polarising voters via vicious speeches inducing raw emotions of hostility and hate. Who cares if it is destructive and stokes communal violence and sows the seeds of rabid communalism.
It is no secret that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been doling out innumerable freebies to the minority community over the last 9 years. From asserting that Muslims had the first claim on the country’s resources, down a multi-sectoral development plan at a cost of over Rs 4,000crore for 90 minority districts, Rs 80-crore for pre-matric scholarships and over Rs 45 crore for modernizing madrassa education et al.
Take a 360 degree turn anywhere and minority appeasement hits you in the face. All in the garb of improving their quality of life (sic) which translates into “please give me your vote.” Be it the Congress, Laloo’s RJD, Paswan’s LJP, Mian Mulayam’s Samajwadi etc.
In sum, communal politics would be good if it ensured better quality of life for the members of a particular community. However, it invariably turns into hate politics. This has been India’s experience over the last many decades and the consequence of such politics has been disastrous.
Needless to say, this ping-pong over who is secular and who a communal is scary. When selfish vote banks politics dictate our polity’s political ideology and their attitude and stance is fashioned according to the electorate’s diktat then all stand tarred by the same brush.
Importantly, no quarter should be given to those who fan hatred among people and communities. Be it a Hindu fundamentalist or a Muslim militant. Both are destroyers of the State, which has no religious entity. Thus, our moral angst cannot be selective but should be just, honourable and equal.
In the ultimate our petty-power-at-all-cost polity needs to think beyond vote-bank politics and look at the perilous implications of their insidious out-pourings. Realise a nation is primarily a fusion of minds and hearts and secondarily a geographical entity. India is a big country with enough room for all to live in peace and goodwill. — INFA