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Is India Rejecting Communal Politics?

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By Agam Dhingra:

Over the years, democracy has both strengthened and widened in its scope as people have come to accept this form of governance in its contribution in establishing a moral, just, equal and liberal society.

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In India, the democratic system of governance has evolved over the years and continues to be influenced by its rich cultural, social and regional diversities. Class, gender, etc., are some factors that allow people to identify themselves and relate to each other. While it is often believed that political expression of such social differences, divisions or inequalities is detrimental for the society and leads to conflicts among people of different communities, religion, class, etc.; it is not true always. In a democracy, political expression of such divisions is normal and can prove to be healthy. It allows various social groups or communities to express themselves and get the government to resolve their grievances.

Another important factor that has influenced democratic process is religious composition of India. Various political parties have been formed to promote and safeguard the interests of various communities formed on religious lines. Though such communal politics is not dangerous for the country and ideas, ideals and values drawn from different religions can and perhaps should play a role in politics. The problem becomes acute when religion is expressed in exclusive and partisan terms in politics or when one religion and its followers are pitted against each other as witnessed during the communal rights between Muslims and Hindus at the time of partition.

The idea of religion as the principal basis of a community is hollow and non-inclusive. The Bhartiya Janta Party for instance, has been unable to form a government at the Centre post the Babri masjid demolition and the Godhra riots, largely due to its Hindutva politics. On the other hand, BJP’s model of governance has been successful in states like Gujarat among others primarily because of the support of a large Hindu vote base.

The promotion of communal identities and beliefs is constructive and not bad unless and until it does not encroach upon the religious beliefs or demands of another community for their own vested interests. An Indian must be able to exhibit his respect for various communities and different religions. Also, the belief in communalism is fundamentally flawed. Aspirations and interests of people of one religion are not the same in every context. Each and every person has their own identities, positions and different positions of responsibilities. Various opinions inside a community give a collective voice to the community and all these voices have a right to be heard. Therefore, any attempt to bring all followers of one religion together in context other than religion would lead to the suppression of voices within that community. This is perhaps why political parties based on religion are finding it extremely difficult to garner enough votes to form government by their own and thus have to enter into coalition with other political parties. Also, with more and more Indians migrating to towns and cities and adopting modern lifestyles, people have slowly started shedding their prejudices against different communities and religions. However, this attitudinal change is restricted to only a small fraction of the population and the majority of the population is still involved in bickering about religious and lifestyle differences of different communities.

Communalism should not been seen as a threat to some people in India but it threatens the very idea of India. That is why communalism needs to be combatted. People should be able to express in politics their needs, demands and interests as a member of a religious community. Those in authority should sometimes be able to regulate the practise of religion so as to prevent discrimination and oppression. These political acts are not wrong as long as they treat every religion and community equally. Communal prejudices and propaganda need to be countered in everyday life and religion-based mobilisation needs to be countered in the arena of politics.

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  1. Veer Subhash

    Is it just a COINCIDENCE that you have used Narendra Modi’s photo, worshiping a Goddess in an article, center staging the threats of communalism. ?
    Is it yet another coincidence that you have mentioned only one political party i.e. BJP , and only once political ideology i.e. Hindutva ?
    There is an over whelming number of photos available on Internet where you can see Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam, Laloo wearing a Muslim skull cap ? Why didnt you use those pics here ? Is going to a temple alone communalism ? I remember where Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav specifically said that they will build the Babri Masjid . Owasi statements are now well know where he threats of exterminating Hindus in 15 mins if police is allowed ? Are these not communal statements and reflection of communalisation of politics.

    What BJP is doing may be wrong, but when writers and budding journalists like you singularly pick BJP/ Narendra Modi, ang BJP alone than that itself smacks of communalism.

    If you can not be equal in your criticism of all, if your criticism is selective, if your criticism depends on the religion , than my dear friend, YOUR CRITICISM IS IS ITSELF AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR COMMUNAL MINDSET .

    You are doing what exactly you are condemning others of doing.

    1. Sunny Kumar

      I appreciate the writer’s views. The current ideology that guides politics in India and how religion influences politics is also aptly explained. A few more comparisons could have been drawn to succinctly elaborate upon the issue of communal politics.

      Veer Subhash, I believe the use of the imagery is purely coincidental to reflect the writer’s reference to Narendra Modi. Also, I believe the writer has made use of Narendra Modi’s example so that it helps people relate to what he is trying to explain. I agree with you that numerous political parties such as the Congress, Samajwadi party, etc., have also resorted to communal politics to increase their vote bank. But it is my belief that the Narendra Modi’s record of efficient governance and development and the fact that the Godhra Riots and demolition of the Babri Masjid is an incident in the recent history (to which youth can easily relate to as compared to the events of the past such as the violence in Punjab, etc.,) coupled with Modi’s sudden rise in the political arena as a potential player in the 2014 politics has brought him in the limelight again. Perhaps, that is why a comparison has been made.

      It is not to be denied that no party is free of communalism, Modi’s Sadhbawna mission or Congress’s appeals to Muslims clearly reflects their desire to amend their wrongdoings on the past.

      What the writer is trying to express is that such politics is detrimental for the country and that political parties must rise above and begin to seek good for all rather than serving the followers of one particular religion for personal interests. Instead of blaming the writer for adopting a communal mindset and targeting him for having used Modi as an instance lacks wise thinking and understanding of the situation. Moreover, he establishes the fact religion is one of the factors that influences the democratic process. So , I believe, that the writer has brought to light one of the aspects that has contributed to the evolution of democracy and not that his criticism is not selective nor does it fully depend on religion. Rather, it is constructive criticism is what I would like to say!

  2. Manish

    Agam, you bloody moron, let me repeat what I said to your colleague Ms. Heeba.

    You and your bloody ilk should be doing social service on the streets of the Islamic State. Get out of this country dude!

    As the commentator pointed out earlier, you have the gall you use the image of our beloved Goddess Kali, (peace be upon Her, the destroyer of evil), next to the image of our Prime Minister? If you were in the neighboring Islamo-Jihadist nation of “PUKE”istan, you would be beheaded for it. Just try using the image of your favorite God “ALLAH” …..

    And the following is again from my reply to your colleague Ms. Heeba:

    Why does the theme of polarization work for you against the BJP?

    Allow your humble reader to give you an example of “polarization by guile” being carried out by the “SCAM”GROSS party and its political sidekick in Uttar Pradesh the Samajwadi Party (which is essentially a party of Goondas and Rapists)

    The Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh is allotting communal graveyards to the WAQF Board, which is a dastardly act of land grab by the Sunni Muslim community, endorsed by the Goondas and the Rapists of the Samajwadi Party (and by extension, the “SCAM”GROSS party) designed to polarize the electorate.

    Btw, aren’t you going to the Islamic State? They are calling for folks like to to “serve” their “Caliphate” – whatever that means (I guess a 10th century dark ages notion of a Sharia State that brutalizes women and minorities.

    Kashmir, the ancient HINDU land founded by the Kashyapa Rishis, and blessed by the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge (“Namaste Sharade Devi, Kaashmira Pura Vaasini” – I bow to Goddess Shaarada, who resides in Kaashmir) – has been taken away from the ancient land of Bharat, in large parts due to the ineptitude, or should I say, the diplomatic buffoonery of our first Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru (he should have heeded Mahatma’s Gandhi’s advice) and dissolved the “SCAM”GROSS party after independence – ALAS!!

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