Secularism is being used as a detergent, to wash off all the sins of the political leaders that are ready to help the Sonia led Congress. Mulayam Singh, Mayavati, Lalu, DMK, Kalmadi are all the examples. Mulayam has openly confessed about CBI threat. Ratan Sharda writes…
If you observe the current high-profile players on the national scene creating media waves, they all belong to erstwhile Socialist groupings and people masquerading as high priests of Secularism. Generally, these two classes overlap. Of course, there are regional outfits who are self-certified secularists.
The gamesmanship pivots around these themes. Let us look at current newsmakers. Mulayam Singh Yadav – self-professed Lohiate. Nitish Kumar – claiming to be the true heir of Jaiprakash Narayan legacy and belonging to same Socialist grouping. Lalu Prasad Yadav, playing Muslim - Yadav card in the name of socialism. Mamata Banerjee – who is out to outdo Communists in creating Muslim vote bank with help of Bangladeshis, is distributing exchequer money as largess to their Maulvis and Muazzins. Others in this game of one-upmanship – DMK and other shades of Dravidian politics, all show off their secularism by degenerating Hinduism in the garb of social reforms.
At the moment let me concentrate on Socialists. They symbolize the tragedy of Indian politics for what it could not become. It was the most influential group on Indian political horizon before Communist leftists overtook them using Shrimati Indira Gandhi’s politics. Not many would recall that the first socialist group was born inside Congress party as CSP in 1934 (Congress Socialist Party led by Jai Prakash Narayan) and was part of Congress and broke away after independence to form Socialist party of India.
There were three major traits of Indian Socialists – strong anti-Congressism, strong antipathy and jealously for RSS and its off-shoots, and most serious - tendency to split like amoeba. Of this, anti-Congress plank is now only for political shadow boxing, tasting blood of power with Congress has robbed them of this defining trait. Their strong jealously for RSS arose primarily from their failure to create institutions like RSS, a competing organization. Secularism just happened to be a good whip to lash out at RSS and associates. So, they would go to any extent to weaken it, even if it meant breaking their own ruling Janata Party, post-emergency and losing power and relevance as a major political force that could influence Indian politics positively.
Socialists have kept splitting because of their bloated self-ego who split for petty reasons. Another reason for the split has been a sense of compulsion to turn against the mentors – Laloo vs Nitish, George Fernandes vs Nitish, Beni Prasad vs Mulayam; where first named have been mentors.
Socialists were the first genuine democratic opposition to Congress after independence. They had a galaxy of leaders and thinkers who shaped the left-oriented politics in India. Had they been a better team players, they might have been the second pole of Indian politics, and not BJP. This is called ‘Yaadavi sangram’ in Hindi, term born out of the legendary fight within Yadavs of Shri Krishna’s clan, who finished off each other after Lord Krishna left this world. This same ‘Yaadavi’ mentality has been the bane of Socialist movement.
Only three people in Socialist movement rose above this mentality – Ram Manohar Lohia who was steeped in Indian ethos and pioneered the first non-Congress government with Deendayal Upadhyay of Jan Sangh after 1967; Jai Prakash Narayan who had the courage to change his views on RSS after he saw it from close quarters although he was bitterly opposed to it earlier in life like any Socialist, fought along with them against forces of dictatorship and won the war for democracy; and George Fernandes who saw the futility of opposing a strong nationalist force like RSS and BJP and letting Congress take advantage of this irrational animosity. When these people were at the helm, India saw the rise of political forces that provided alternative to original casteist and communal party of India viz. Congress. Nitish, too, had overcome this blind animosity along with George Fernandes and was able to throw out corrupt Laloo regime, rescuing Bihar from dark anarchy.
Communists have had a natural animosity for RSS because they abhorred nationalism as anti-thesis of Internationalism; and their west oriented training which disliked any ideology, any movement rooted in Hindu culture and ancient Indian genius. But Socialist antipathy to RSS school of thought is more out of jealousy or worry about superior grass root network of RSS.
This blind jealousy has led to decimation of true Socialist politics and deterioration into crass caste politics of Mulayams and Laloos. Nitish has been more subtle in his political approach. His way of having his cake and eating is too, is to stamp Modi as communal but BJP as secular. It is the kind of convenient argument that people had for Vajpayee – the right man in the wrong party! How can a member of an organization be secular if the organization itself is communal? Just as Socialists killed their organizations, Nitish is, now, staring at a similar fate if he doesn’t pull back in time.
To enjoy fruits of power, the Mulayams, Laloos and DMK are finding it virtuous to support Congress inspite of vehement opposition to its economic policies and they are trying to save their faces by invoking secularism, using it as a peg to hang their sins of collaborating with the most scam ridden government in post-independence India. Their arguments turn more and more bizarre as the days go by. Mulayam opposes FDI and then runs away from Loksabha to save the nation from communal BJP.
Now, he has literally confessed that he supported UPA to save his skin from CBI. Thus, secularism is a detergent that can wash off all your sins! Nitish gets lollipops for Bihar to divorce BJP, and seems to be ready take a suicidal leap with Congress. DMK supports the government for years while Sri Lankan Tamils are butchered and terrorists of LTTE rule the roost, now it suddenly finds its voice as they see no protection from CBI etc.
There was a time when the political parties ran on certain policies and ideologies. There were kind of soft borders that a leader or member of a party wouldn’t cross. So, it would be impossible to imagine a Jan Sangh person joining Congress or Communists and vice versa. Now there is no sanctity about one’s ideology or political beliefs. We have spectacle of three ex-RSS people leading three formations in Gujarat, including Congress. We have two ex-RSS men heading the Congress and BJP governments in two states. We have Congress leaders becoming BJP ministers and so on. We have Muslim League, the party who brought about partition of India as the dominating partner to Congress in Kerala. Thus, any communal person can be washed off his/her sins by the holy waters of Congress power.
It is a tragedy that these Socialists of different hues have not learnt from their own history. By leaving the left of centre space to mercenary players in the guise of stopping Hindu communalism; they have fanned or closed their eyes to minority appeasement based communalism. They are vitiating the political scenario by trying to ride two boats – enjoying fruits of power with Congress while trying to present themselves as opposition too.
Secularism was introduced in the West as an antidote to domination of Church - separating it from the government. The word Secularism was not introduced in the Indian constitution because the law makers believed that Indian cultural legacy itself is a shining example of secularism in its form of ‘respect for all forms of faith’. This word was introduced during Emergency period in absence of any opposition to show off secular colours of Shrimati Indira Gandhi. Even at that time, constitutional expert Dr. L. M. Singhvi didn’t budge from his position of translating ‘secularism’ only as ‘panth nirapeksha’ (neutral to different faiths) and not ‘dharma nirapeksha’ (neutral to rule of law- the closest meaning of dharma). Our Marxists have turned secularism to ‘anti/non-religious’ or virtually ‘anti-Hindu’. It is a tragedy that secularism has been reduced to a farcical Muslim vs. Hindu equation.
If you are pro-Muslim you are secular, if you are pro-Hindu you are communal. There is no sense of ‘samabhav’ (equality or equal respect) that secularism carries in Indian ethos. The entire democratic exercise has been reduced to Muslim vs Hindu in the name of Secular vs Communal. All other debates or discussions about issues facing the country, the rotten anarchy that country is in today have been relegated to background.
I hope Socialist groups see the light before they are further reduced to being ultra-casteist parties and appendages of Congress, willing accomplices of its corrupt governance. They need to return to the path shown by Jai Prakash Narayan and Lohia, and put the nation first.