Indian democracy and secularism are on the ventilator these days. That’s clear now. It can survive and it has to survive for the betterment of masses which are mostly poor and for the marginalized and minorities. India’s minorities have felt the brunt of the onslaught of the right wing government over the last few years.
People have been and are being lynched and murdered in broad daylight. Journalists and activists have either been killed or jailed. Some have been threatened and some thrashed too. New laws have been enacted to intimidate and threaten minorities. CAA and the contentious farm laws are the cases in point.
In the last two weeks, brave Hindutva warriors beat up a Muslim bangle seller, vandalised a Muslim dosa seller's stall, harassed a Muslim pani poori wala, forced a Muslim scrap dealer to chant "Jai Shri Ram", harassed a Muslim tanga wala, beat-up a Muslim beggar.. List continues.
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) August 30, 2021
The Sikh community has been protesting for a long time now but nobody is listening. The media has become a lapdog of the present regime. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on Indian society as a whole and for the Indian economy, it was a death blow.
Prices of commodities have skyrocketed. It has broken the back of a common man. Indian society is in tatters. Venom is being spewed and spread every night via electronic media. Social media has also played its role in spreading fake news and animosity in Indian society.
Behind this animosity is the right wing regime which is hell-bent to turn India into some medieval society and undo what it has gained over the decades after many sacrifices.
Coming to the recent survey of India Today which showed Modi’s popularity waning and Rahul Gandhi on the third position in the list, it has become clear that Indians are not happy with the present regime especially its leader.
So, I hope people would have got the answer to the question which right-wing leaning media had fed them up which is. “If not Modi, then who?” The simple and clear answer to this question is Rahul Gandhi. It is so because Rahul Gandhi has that all qualities which the head of the state needs in present times.
Rahul Gandhi has studied in one of the best universities. He has empathy for poor and marginalized people and minorities and he has shown this quality many times. He has shared their grief and concerns and promised to address their issues if given a chance which his opponents lack.
Rather, hypocrisy is the trademark of the right-wing camp, whether on the corruption front or nepotism front. Corruption, which the present regime promised to end and on which platform they gained power, is still rampant and has rather increased in the last seven years with no end in sight.
Atrocities on minorities have risen over the past few years to great proportion and look now beyond repair. Religious extremism is taking an ugly turn with each passing day. Minorities are feeling unsafe in their own country. The democracy and secularism on which the Indian National Congress worked so hard over decades is fading with each passing day.
We must be clear in understanding that Congress is a party whose core ideology is secularism and that secularism means to give equal space to all religions and their people in social, cultural and political, educational, employment and other fields. It thrives on equality, fraternity and liberty.
The core ideology of Hindutva is hate and destruction. Rahul Gandhi is the only person who has stood against this hate and divisive force and has earned praise from internationally acclaimed scholars and intellectuals. He has been at the forefront in opposing the ideology based on hatred and violence. The modern world doesn’t need a hate-based ideology that has no empathy for others.
The ideology based on hatred doesn’t believe in dialogue. There is no space in it for argument and facts. Facts are mutilated to suit the nefarious ends of rulers. History is being distorted. The West debunked the right-wing ideology a long time ago after the second world war.
It is still there but there are very few people who believe in this ideology. And their political and cultural and other institutions are so strong that it is unlikely that the right-wing ideology will succeed there for long, nor can anybody win the election on this ideology of hatred.
India, some two decades ago, was on the path to progress and prosperity under a secular and progressive rule. However, that is now under attack. The political system of today’s India resembles autocracy or theocracy dominated by Hindutva forces. This is not a good news for the Indian political system, secularism and democracy.
There are many PM candidates for the upcoming general elections of India to be held in 2024 and Rahul Gandhi tops them all. He is well qualified, ready to accept the challenge, ready to answer the questions of the masses, ready to address the issues of masses. I still remember when Rahul Gandhi visited JNU.
He had some discussion with students in the Jhelum Hostel then went straight to the venue where students were waiting for him to bombard him with questions. He stood there for about three to four hours answering every question of students and scholars.
We may not have agreed with some of his answers or explanation but he didn’t leave the venue till all questions were answered. He left the venue with grace and confidence. India needs Rahul Gandhi more than ever to steer it away from communalism, unemployment, religious extremism, hatred, inflation and poverty which has engulfed it now for the last seven years or so.
India needs a secular and empathic as the head of the state to put it on a progressive and secular and democratic path where every person irrespective of his or her faith, sect, caste is respected and provided a dignified life.
By Ashraf Lone
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
(Ashraf Lone’s deeply personal memoir “ The Red Snowfall” based on Kashmir of 1990s is slated to be released by OM Books International, New Delhi, India)