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The Urgent Need To Dissociate Religion From Politics

Posted on October 15, 2013 in Politics

By Ana Kandwal:

Something that caught my attention recently was a post on a social network site stating, ‘If you are a Hindu, vote for Modi’. Today, such statements are very common and easy to come across, especially after the debate which revolves around the issue of the Prime Ministerial candidate. The statement yet again clarifies the political stand that parties take and how they have actually used religion as a weapon to arm their speeches, fool the masses with religious ideologies and divide them on communal lines.

modi campaign

Indian Nationalism has long been lost. Today, nationalism is seen to propagate the interest of a particular religion. I am not stating that nationalism doesn’t exist in India but my point is over the whole idea of how nationalism is being propagated in India especially taking into regards the hate speeches, communal divisions and mob incitement. Today, nationalism has narrowed down to a single ideology that is ‘Hindutva’.

Many here will argue what is wrong if someone says that if you are a Hindu, vote for Modi? The statement ‘If you are a Hindu, vote for Modi’ itself  defeats the complete of idea of secularism which clearly catapults one to vote by challenging them on the basis of their religion. This is completely against the idea of secularism adopted by India that political scenario was to be free from religion with all religion being treated equally. This is why the the religious extremist parties such as RSS were banned post the assassination of Gandhi, so that they could have no interference in political arena. However, this hasn’t been the case and RSS still continues to play a significant role in the decision making process of the BJP. The overthrowing of Advani and replacing him with Modi for the Prime Ministerial candidature was a move played by RSS who even asked Advani to continue guiding the party for the national interest. But what is their national interest?

The campaign idea such as these actually divide our nation on the basis of religion, just like how once Jinnah and Nehru had torn the Indian subcontinent into three pieces. Statements such as these, time and again confirm that the communal hatred that saw its birth on the eve of independence remains alive and the nation remains divided on religious grounds. When India was born, the ideas as conceived by our leaders were that the rise of India as a modern nation would eliminate the prominent role as played by religion and side-line it largely. However, their idea failed drastically with the political entities making religion their prime electoral agenda.

And of course, as I have written this, I will be dismissed as yet another Modi hater who is maligning his image and accusing him of the Godhra riots. Firstly, I am not anti-Modi or pro-congress. I am anti-system that has caused fraudulent corruption, suicides among the farmers, has kept us divided on the basis of religion and so on and so forth. Secondly, my point isn’t what Modi is all about or what RSS or BJP is all about. The only point that I am trying to assert is whether it is actually necessary to use religious terms to incite one to vote for a candidate? Is it necessary only to be a Hindu to vote for Modi? Yes, he is a communal hate monger but he has many a Muslim supporters in Gujarat itself. Why not simply state and propagate just the idea of voting for Modi by excluding the term Hindu. Does one become a Hindu only after voting for Modi? Does their faith only depend on  hitting the vote for Modi button on the EVM machines? Is this how naive we are?

People, as responsible citizens of a democratic India, let us at least not be like these politicians and vote with religious prejudices. Let us be responsible and vote for a change. A change that improves our nation’s condition, and now we even have the option of rejecting a candidate. It may perhaps not dethrone him/her but at least now a picture shall come forward where actually the displeasure that the masses had for the entire political cartel will be brought forward and perhaps it may encourage voting among us middle class families who had stopped voting only because we knew no one was worth the vote.