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Kya lagaya hai, yeh secular, secular?

March 18, 2005 22:05 IST

The truth is finally out: Ram Vilas Paswan rooting for a Muslim chief minister in Bihar is 'secular,' but L K Advani rooting for a Ram temple at Ayodhya is 'communal' if not a 'fascist' as well.

If the country's entire media and its 'intellectuals' chose to be absolutely mum on Paswan's demand based on alluring the large base of Muslim voters, it was because our media is oh, so 'secular.'

And when Advani's demand is based on the historical, revenue and archaeological records of Ayodhya, he is still 'communal' because our media is oh, so 'secular.' That is the truth and the tragedy of Hindustan's intellectuals, the Election Commission included.

Yes, the cat is out of the bag: 'When it comes to the nitty-gritty what determines whether or not a person is secular is his attitude towards the minority communities, mostly towards Muslims who matter much more than Christians or Sikhs.' That is from the pen of the high priest of liberalism, modernism and smut aka Khushwant Singh, in a recent column.

Judged by that criterion of his, Dr Rafiq Zakaria, the renowned Islamic scholar, must be pronounced as a rabid communalist for the criticism he let loose on Indian Muslims in his book Communal Rage in Secular India, where he lambasts them for their hostility towards Vande Mataram and Hindus, derides them for their ghettoist mindset and mocks them for going to the mullah seeking a fatwa on the length of the beard to be kept, the level to which the kurta must fall over the knees and on whether male urination must be done standing or sitting.

Note, incidentally, Khushwant Singh's observation that Muslims 'matter much more than Christians or Sikhs.' Why? Singh doesn't say. What is conspicuous is that this differentiation in the status of three communities is created by a sardar of 'secularism.' Truly can iconic status be given to such people only in the clueless, spineless and thoughtless pseudo-secular world created by India's English language media and their vernacular cousins and partners.

The Indian Union Muslim League party is a classic case of the 'secular' notions generated by the English media. The IUML was formed on March 10, 1948 with its roots in Jinnah's Muslim League. The IUML is touted as a political party meant for protecting the interests of India Muslims. Yet, despite its name, it is recognised as 'secular' party eligible to contest Indian elections. The Leftists of all hues, the Congress of all hues, the Yadavs and the Paswans, the Mulayams and the Mayawatis, the John Dayal Christians -- all of them don't doubt that the IUML is anything but 'secular' but how many of them all can name a single non-Muslim member of the IUML?

When viewing the BJP, however, all of the above plus the DMK, PMK et al put on their dark glasses. For all its opponents in the political and media world, the BJP is 'communal' because it projects Hindu culture and Hindu aspirations while being the only one to simultaneously promise 'Justice to all with appeasement of none.'

All these adversaries have forgotten -- like all the media -- that, as a mechanism to resolve the Ayodhya dispute, the BJP had even volunteered to shift, with modern technology, brick by brick of the Babri Masjid to a nearby site even though the Babri structure had long ceased to be a site for offering namaaz. Hence, for all these adversaries afflicted with political glaucoma, the BJP is 'communal,' period, and full stop.

It means no whit to BJP's adversaries that its NDA government in New Delhi had two Muslims in its council of ministers who even today, when out of power, the BJP has given positions of high respect and authority. It means no whit to these adversaries that the BJP-led NDA government's defence minister was a Christian, George Fernandes, an important spokesman was a Sikh, S S Ahluwalia, and its attorney general was born a Parsi, Soli Sorabjee.

It means no whit to these adversaries that the BJP has Christians as its members from Goa to far away Mizoram and Nagaland and that one of the most prolific writers in Urdu, Muzaffar Hussein, has long been in the BJP fold. And, finally, it means no whit to this witless lot of adversaries that the RSS, the mother of the BJP, has always welcomed one and all to its arms, without ever asking for their caste or creed or community.

Under the circumstances, all that matters to those arraigned against the BJP is that the BJP must be kept away from power everywhere, and that any 'secular' government can only be without the BJP though it is all right to have in it that caricature called Lalu Yadav. The ad nauseam way these Commies and Congressmen, the Yadavs and the Paswans, the Mulayams and the Mayawatis have been talking of 'secular alliance,' 'secular coalition,' 'secular forces' and 'secular government' in recent months, makes one puke.

Hence, S Gurumurthy is dead right when he writes, 'For 'secular' India, secularism is not divorced between the State and the religion. For them secularism is exclusively for the benefit of the minorities. Extend it, secularism means pampering the minorities. Go further, it includes being allergic to the majority. That, unless one explicitly appeases the minorities and is overtly allergic to Hindus, one is not 'secular' enough. In Indian politics, uniting a minority for votes is 'secular.' Consequently, uniting the majority is anti-'secular.' And organising the majority is fundamentalist. In contrast, protecting organised minority is a 'secular' duty. This is the high point of 'secular' India.' (The New Indian Express, February 12, 2005)

The time has therefore come for the BJP to straighten its spine, hold the microphone and roar, 'Yeh kya lagaya hai, secular, secular?' It must ask that question, loud and clear, to all across the length and breadth of Hindustan. More specifically, it must direct that question to --

  • The Congress which, in the Rajya Sabha, voted out that clause in the 45th Constitution Amendment Bill, 1978, which defined 'secular' as 'equal respect for all religions.'
  • A M Ahmadi, a former chief justice of India who recorded that 'the term Secular has advisedly not been defined presumably because it is a very elastic term not capable of a precise definition and perhaps best left undefined.' (S R Bommai v Union of India, AIR SCW 2946 page 2992).
  • Lalu Yadav who thinks it is 'secular' to protect Bihar's Muslims from communal riots but to let a Hindu magistrate be transferred because he objected to a nearby azaan blaring during working hours despite a court order to the contrary, and to let Hindus be kidnapped a dime a dozen.
  • The Leftists of all hues who want us to believe it is secularism that 'in the 28th year of the egalitarian Marxist rule in West Bengal, dowry, lynching women as witches, marrying daughters to dogs and hiring sorcerers' service to tackle malaria, and refusal to eat food cooked by Muslims and lower caste Hindus are rampant and thriving in the state.' (Editorial in The Statesman,Calcutta, January 21, 2005).
  • Achyut Patwardhan and his ilk of pseudo-secularists who are apparently ignorant that, in his Constitution Law of India, 1998, page 4, footnote, the eminent authority, Basu, described the expression 'secular' as vague, and stated that it would be a correct summary of the provisions of Articles 25 to 30 of the Indian Constitution to say that the expression 'Republic' qualified by the expression 'secular' means a republic in which there is equal respect for all religions.

All 'secularists' of the above kind must be told that by far one of the most clear-cut concepts of pure secularism was propounded on August 11, 1947. It was not propounded by Jawaharlal Nehru, the father of today's pseudo-secularism, or by Mahatma Gandhi, who, with his Khilafat Movement was the first to officially bring religion into our politics. Rather, and most ironically, the perspective was propounded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who fought for and got Pakistan for Muslims. At the first meeting of Pakistan's Constituent Assembly that day in August 1947, following were some of the words he spoke:

'You may belong to any religious caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting the State with no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, between caste and creedÂ… We should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in the course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense -- as citizens of the nationÂ…My guiding principle will be justice and impartiality.'(Jinnah, Speeches as Governor General cited on page 491 of The Proudest Day Pimlico 1998, by Anthony Read and David Fisher).

It's another supreme irony that Jinnah's vision of a perfectly secular Pakistan has turned into a fundamentalist jihadistan on the ground while the ancient, most tolerant of all nations, Hindustan, has today turned anti-Hindu under fundamentalists of a different kind. Patriotic Indians must brook no further delay in roaring, 'Kya lagaya hai, yeh secular, secular?'

Arvind Lavakare