he irresistible urge to mix politics and religion usually comes at the cost of secularism, tolerance and vulnerable minorities. Mixing religion with politics is a deadly strategy for a modern and diverse country like ours. It is a spiralling game that could spin out of control. No one had anticipated that we would begin the toxic game of mixing politics with religion.
Basically, our journey in that direction started in the early 90s when the Indian political establishment suddenly faced a massive social crisis after the release of the Mandal Commission report on quotas for the backward classes in government jobs and educational institutions. At this critical stage of social churning within Hindu society, the Sangh stepped in, with L.K. Advani setting out on a ‘rath yatra’ and polarising the country along a Mandir-Masjid axis. Although, this political rally turned into a riot in the1992. The strategy was simple, a ‘divide and rule’ policy was executed to divert the Hindu society with the Hindu-Muslim divide, for this purpose an enemy had to be created and that enemy were none other than “the Muslim’s”, who were obstructing the construction of Ram Temple at the site of Babri Masjid. Expressions like Muslim vote bank and Muslim appeasement emerged, feeding a siege mentality among the Hindu majority from an emerging ‘Muslim enemy’. It was a conscious game to create a political Hindutva.
Muslim’s are often demeaned, branded as terrorists; they and their properties and places of worship are often attacked. Also, many Indian Muslims, who believe in peace-loving situations, might turn into terrorists by such attacks. A chain reaction may even result in war. They are also abused of supporting Pakistan nationality if they do not stand up for the National Anthem in theatres. Even the Muslim actors are being targeted and asked to go to Pakistan for doing roles on the socially relevant films that might depict the darker side of our fabricated religious belief. Perhaps, it can be argued that are they being victimised for political agendas!
The drift of politics and religion is manifest in the agenda of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who embraces Hindutva politics of hatred in the name of religion. During the 2014 elections, the BJP campaigned on the slogan “Vote for Modi, give life to the cow”, cashing in on the Hindu belief that cows are holy. The BJP subsequently fulfilled its promise to ban the selling of cows for slaughter in 18 states in India, but what about the poor whose earnings rely on meat and beef since years?
It is necessary for the BJP government to keep the communal heat on to gain the votes of a majority. The communal riots and incidents over cow slaughter must be instigated by the BJP all over India, while the party claims that it had nothing to do with such “spontaneous” incidents. Why are cows more sacred than human beings? Whether Christian, Muslim or outside the fold of upper-caste Hinduism, beef is one of the few cheaply available sources of protein. India is proud of being the largest democracy, but seems to be failing to uphold the rule of law and influence one to engage in illegal killings targeting Muslims harming the nation’s dignity.
Power politics and hate-mongering in the name of religion sow seeds of vulnerability and violence. But is it ever possible to entirely supplant religious thinking in the country in any age?
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)