“The first thing we seem to be doing wrong is taking sides. Most political pundits in our ancient land have been bred on the ‘secularism’ diet, whose most important ingredient is contempt for political leaders unashamed of being Hindu,” wrote Tavleen Singh, a month back, in one of her articles after the resounding defeat of an opportunistic, ragtag alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Indian National Congress in the hands of a bumptious and youthful BJP, whose appetite for victories has been on the rise since the great rise of the saffron party three summers back.
As a reader of political novels, I can say with my hands on my heart that Tavleen happens to be one of the frankest and amazingly honest authors to read. It is quite refreshing to read her because of the brutal honesty and self-deprecation in her words. This characteristic is quite inconsistent with the inflated egos of the sentinels of the fourth estate of democracy.
However, the line I quoted from one of her fifth columns at the beginning came as a surprise or perhaps a disappointment. As a hard-nosed journalist who has been covering elections from the emergency to the Modi frenzy, the remarks perhaps did not do justice to the history of a nation which saw a right wing political party grow amid violence and bloodbath. The notion of ‘Hindu pride’ was accompanied by a minority complex or to be more precise, a Muslim complex and a majoritarian mindset. Though the Lutyen’s idea of secularism is outdated, as is Nehru, there is no place to eulogise proud Hindutva leaders who reduced a mosque to rubble.
Elitist, cosy club secularism of journalists is deracinated from reality. They have always portrayed majoritarianism to be a greater threat than the politics of secularism, which generated mentality of persecution. Hindutva endangered Indian democracy, ‘Imam allowance’ did not. They were not consistent in their criticism of sectarian polarisation. But does that validate the actions of a Hindutva leader who adorns a murder accused with the tricolour? Can that ever justify the lynching of a man for the meat he stores in his refrigerator? Can your ‘Hindu’ pride allow you to take law in your hands?
Is this the face of an unabashed ‘Hindu’ pride, which tests and questions the nationalism of a Muslim? Does a Muslim in this country needs to explicitly condemn every act of terror on a Hindu to be seen as an ideal Indian? And where is the platform to do so? There are other minority communities in the country too. They are not being suspected of treachery all the time. Perhaps because they are not seen to be potential ‘threats’ to the Hindu population. Or because Buddhism or Jainism are seen to be offshoots of Hinduism.
The Lutyens media’s definition of secularism has hurt the idea of a syncretic India as much as the communal agenda of the saffron parties. But by solely holding the Lutyens media responsible for the abuse of secularism, the columnist has provided us with a half truth. And half-truths are more dangerous than lies.
The proud ‘Hindu’ leaders which include the likes of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (about whom we know little thanks to the ideological bias of the Marxist historians) aided the treatment of the national poet of Bangladesh. And the poet happened to be a Muslim, if I may add. However, the proud ‘Hindu’ leaders of today are more concerned about stopping the slaughter of an animal, which in any case is dying abandoned on the streets of India. The proud Hindutva leaders of today are more concerned about the food we eat than those who have nothing on their platter.
The year 2002 happens to be a blot on the history of Indian democracy just like 1984 and 1992. Hindus died, Muslims perished. This is how we see it, unfortunately. We forget that both the dead Hindu and the slaughtered Muslim carried an Indian voter card. It is high time we take pride in our humanness and bodily existence, which is far greater than our religious identity.