During their debates in the 1940s, the volunteers of Muslim League used to ask congressmen to accept that Congress was a party of the Hindus. However, the volunteers of Congress never accepted the party as a Hindu party. Is it all same now?
Usually, it’s the politicians and the political parties who are held responsible for arousing religious sentiments in public. However, one of India’s oldest parties is going through the reverse process. The Indian National Congress, which was so far considered to be a liberal and inclusive party, is over enthusiastically asserting itself to be a party with many Hindu leaders. It is evident that Congress is trying to pander the current wave of Hindutva in India.
The early signs of these changes were noticed when Rahul Gandhi made several visits to temples in Gujarat during Gujarat elections. It was the time when the nation was told that Rahul Gandhi is a ‘janeaudhari (one who wears the sacred thread) Brahmin’. It was followed by the release of book ‘Why I Am A Hindu’ by Congress stalwart Shashi Tharoor, in which he asserts his clinging to Hinduism while drawing sharp distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva. And it is only in the past one year that people have come to know that Rahul Gandhi is a Shiv bhakt. From Mansarovar Yatra to visiting Ujjain Mahakaleshwar, Congress’ President has shown an unprecedented enthusiasm in seeking divine help. Similarly, Congress spokespersons can be seen claiming due credit for opening the gates of Babri Masjid and placing an idol there in the never ending Ram Mandir debates.
However, Congress is either unaware or maybe unconcerned about the ramifications of this overt display of faith. Congress is the party which is credited for India’s freedom, and since its advent in 1885, it has opened its doors to people from all sections of society. People of marginalised sections have felt comfortable with Congress because of the secular and liberal attitude adopted by its leaders. But now the minorities and the other vulnerable groups of society are in a state of doubt, confusion, and fear as they feel Congress shifting towards ‘Hindu votes’.
It seems that Congress has fallen prey to BJP’s trap of Hindutva. In pursuit of catering to Hindus, Congress is shifting to a bit right on the scale, with BJP on the right and Communists on the left. By doing this, Congress may end up instilling a feeling of hopelessness in the minds of minorities, Dalits, modern voters with secular outlook, and even atheists.
Imitating BJP will not help Congress in any way, as goes a Hindi saying:
कौया चला हंस की चाल
So, an intellectual like Shashi Tharoor does not need to post his picture with Shivling (holy phallus of Lord Shiva) just because he is being criticized for quoting a six-year old statement. Rahul Gandhi does not need to start his election campaigns with visits to temples as it would hardly secure some votes. All it would do is provide masala to various unprincipled showmen masquerading as journalists for their prime time debates.