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Friday, March 1, 2024
HomeEditorialIndian politics divided into Mandir (Temple) and Masjid (Mosque)

Indian politics divided into Mandir (Temple) and Masjid (Mosque)

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When the Parliamentarians were taking oath on Tuesday, they forgot that they are bounded by the Constitution and its laws and moreover, they are in the house to serve the people; however, displaying of their religious beliefs — from ‘Allahu Akbar’ to ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to ‘Jai Maa Kali’ — was too dramatic, vague, and deliberate. This behaviour has disappointed many voters like me who have chosen the government or the MPs irrespective of their political parties, with the great faith of development and betterment of this country.

The entire Parliament is divided into Mandir and Masjid politics; secularism has become a slang with changed electoral equations. Since the 2014 election, swelling Hindu nationalism has put the opposition parties and secularism on the back foot. Many Indian intellectuals have clinched that the BJP is now the new custodian of Indian politics and nationalism.

The growing unanimity seems to be that Hindu jingoism has gained power at the cost of secularism to the point of being viewed as the only authentic stance an electorally successful nationwide political party can take.

The attitude of the Congress Party lends itself to such an interpretation too, at least up to a point, as the party at times has sought to downplay its secularist roots and embrace pro-Hindu sentiments.

When Congress has realised that the Hindu votes are sliding from them, they indulged in what some observers derisively have called “soft Hindutva,” emulating the kind of religiosity that is typically associated with the BJP. During the state election campaigns in Gujarat (2017) as well as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (2018), Rahul Gandhi took the unusual step (for him) of visiting dozens of temples. He presented himself as a Shiv Bhakt by sporting Chandan Tilaka on his forehead, his sister too indulged in doing Abhishek to Mahakal.

Rahul displayed his Janevu (a sacred thread worn by the upper caste Hindu males), and let his support discuss his Brahmin background as well as his Gotra (clan) in response to the BJP leaders who repeatedly brought up the Italian heritage of his mother, former Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi. Well, in the state elections, they performed very well but when it comes to electing the PM, the same thing did not go well with Congress.

On the other hand, Modi is these days very soft on Muslims and trying his level best in appeasing them. In this Hindu-Muslim tug of war politics, the main issue of building Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has taken a back seat and BJP is hell bent on coming back to this issue.

Beyond optics, Congress has begun flirting with some of the BJP’s favourite campaign themes. For instance, the party manifesto in Madhya Pradesh promised to build Gaushalas (cow shelters), develop the commercial production of Gaumutra (cow urine), and cow dung — the former is used in traditional Hindu medicine while the latter is used as fuel or fertiliser; promote the Ram Van Gaman Path (the path that Lord Ram took during his exile from Ayodhya); pass laws that would conserve India’s sacred Rivers, and promote Sanskrit.

The deputy speaker of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha (state assembly) and manifesto committee chair admitted that the Congress was adopting this platform in response to BJP pressures. The BJP used to brand Congress as [a] Muslim party. It’s a conscious decision to shed that tag thrust on them by their rivals.

As a result, the Congress Party’s state manifesto differed vastly from the previous iteration issued in 2013. Five years ago, the party devoted a whole section to the “minority community,” (a reference mainly to Muslims), a section in which it promised to furnish special economic assistance for madrasas, a new law to curb communal violence, and the implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations.

The Congress Party’s pro-Hindu trend is reinforced by the party’s strategy in terms of ticket distribution. In the 2014 general election, Congress party nominated only 27 Muslim candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, a paltry 5.6 per cent of its total candidates. Well, from 2014 to 2019, the politics was twisted in two religious groups, now minorities have no messiah and Hindus don’t like Congress; the changed narrative of Congress has damaged them to the core. In many BJP-ruled states, minorities have felt vulnerable because of the slayings of Muslims accused of harming cows and, to a lesser extent, the harassment of Christian priests or nuns.

Whether Congress-run state governments provide security to minorities and restore their trust in state institutions, including the police, will be an important measure of the party’s secular credentials. On this front, again, the situation varies from one Congress-ruled state to another, according to the capacity of state leaders to resist pressure from Hindu nationalists. The minorities have no national political party to look forward as Congress changed its stand.

Now coming back to the Ayodhya topic, the Congress is in a fix — if they support Babri and Muslim, they will get exposed over their Hindu stand, Janevu, and Gotra. If they don’t support Ram Temple, minorities will really dump them. It is the scenario with opposition party too, where Dalits are playing different politics. They as whole stood as a parallel politics with no inclination and no individual stand but fallback where they find gain. The Ayodhya affair is the best illustration of this dynamic.

After the Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992, the Indian government appointed a one-man commission led by former Supreme Court justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan. The resulting report, which took 17 years to complete and whose contents were finally leaked to the media, assigned responsibility for the demolition of the mosque to clearly identified Hindu nationalist figures. To date, however, the judicial branch has not asked the government to table the report in the Parliament or to file charges. This delay suggests that trying Hindu nationalists, in this case, is seen as too electorally complex.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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