Communal Issues Threatening Indian Democracy

September 16, 2019

Rohit Dhankar

If one goes by news paper reports the Indian economy is performing the worst in last many years. GDP (whatever it might be!) growth is at the lowest in perhaps a decade, jobs are being lost, business is slumping down, and all indicators that matter are showing the worst performance. Health and education systems are in bad shape and no sign of improvement are anywhere in the sight. The communal rift is very high. In general, the country is doing badly almost in every sphere of public life.

And still there are reports that Modi’s popularity is not coming down. Personally, I do not believe that the PM’s popularity is not coming down. It seems to me that the impact of economic slowdown will take little more time for the public to realise what is happening. But there is also another factor that is obscuring the problem and confusing the people. The belief that human beings and nations live by bread only and governed by economic concerns alone is completely wrong. Humans, are creatures of wants and not merely of needs; they are creatures of imagined desirabilities, aspirations, dreams and what they see as right and wrong. In other words, they are governed by ideologies as much as by material needs. Often, I feel humans actually measure even their material conditions through ideological prisms. Ideas are as important to them as materials.

Currently, it seems the imagination of Indian masses is captured by some ideas and issues which are making them oblivious to the nation’s material conditions, though temporarily. Materiality will finally hit them in near future, and then they will have to re-evaluate their ideological desires. In this context I will share my take on some of the issues and ideas which are playing on the minds of the people today.

These are views of a non-expert Indian citizen, therefore, are from common sense point of view rather than being expertly churned political positions and theories. ‘Non-expert’ views may sometimes be closer to the public opinion and may also be more likely to be wrong! So, why such views deserve engagement? Well, a said above,  because they are likely to be closer to the public opinion, and therefore, deserve addressing (not necessarily agreement) even if wrong.

These issues stop people from paying attention to development agenda and more serious economic and peoples’ empowerment issues like injustice, inequality, curbs on freedoms, and poor state of education, health and availability of minimal facilities to citizens. Addressing these issues should function as removal of irritants and public gaze might be drawn to real issues in the country.

The six topmost communal ideas that need to be addressed and challenged if found wrong are listed below with very brief introduction or elaboration on each.

  1. The Ram Mandir-Babri Mosque

Currently the issue is under judicial scrutiny in our highest court. I do hope what I am writing here is in no way a disrespect to the judicial process of the country.

We adopted a secular democratic constitution on 26th January 1950. As an Indian citizen I believe we said good-by to bigoted practices of demolishing, harming, encroaching or converting places of worship of any religion. History cannot be undone; all you can do with it is understand it and take lessons from it. By accepting a secular democratic constitution, the Indian state also guaranteed protection of places of all religions in the country. On the day when we adopted the constitution, there was standing a mosque at the now disputed place. Therefore, the Indian state was (and is) duty bound to protect the status of that building as a mosque. It failed in that duty. Now it should restore the position we inherited on that day.

From the moral and constitutional point of view, it does not matter whether there was a temple, Rama Temple or whatever at that place before the mosque was built. It does not matter whether the temple, or whatever there was, was destroyed or not. All that matters is that we are out of that barbaric era and do not adopt the policy of using equally barbaric policies of destroying and/or converting religious places.

There are many mosques in India which stand testimony to barbaric policies and bigoted mind set of past Muslim rulers of India, we can not undo that now by the same methods. We are a constitutional and civilised nation, and are interested in knowing our history but are not interested in taking revenge or forcibly recreating the original religious places by removing what is there today.

Therefore, the land for Babri Mosque should be given to responsible Muslim representative body and the mosque should be re-built there with the money recovered from the Hindu organisations responsible for demolishing it.

Historical truth, however, is important. Therefore, it should be thoroughly investigated by whatever means and methods available, to ascertain if there was a template at the place of Babri mosque. And that should be known to all. And that brings us to the second irritant in the minds of many in the majority community.

  • Biased reading of Indian history

Harmony can never be achieved on the basis of falsehoods. Finely woven theories written in claver language do not necessarily make credible narratives. It is true that we can never know the past as ‘it actually happened’, but all narratives built around the available historical material do not equally approximate the ‘truth’.

Exonerating the ideology of Islam and Muslim kings from temple destruction and oppression against Hindus will not help build harmony. The atrocities visited upon them will only rankle in the public memory. The real way would be to distance ourselves from that era and those historical actors and stop blaming present day people for acts of their ancestors. Islam as an ideology and Muslim kings did perpetrate atrocities on Hindus including forced conversions, but Muslims of today are not responsible for that.

The dominant stance of history writing in India in the past about 60 years (more?) has been to hide and whitewash the atrocities perpetrated on the inhabitants of this land before Muslims armies conquered it. The spacious theories of ‘people living here did not have a consciousness of being a single community’, ‘they saw themselves in terms of panths and castes only’, ‘only those temples were destroyed which were playing politics’, ‘Hindu kings also destroyed Hindu temples’, and so on, do not adequately explain the hundreds temples destroyed, volumes written by court historians of Muslim kings, scars on the public memory and differentiated taxations on Hindus and Muslims living under Muslim kings. One can go into details of all this if one likes, but complete whitewashing will not work.

The atrocities of higher castes on shudras and lower in the Hindu social order, also, cannot be explained away by siting nice sounding quotations from Hindu shastras. The facts of atrocious, unjust and extremely oppressive social order Hindus created have to be admitted and has to be undone. This again is an issue of trying to whitewash other sins in the Indian history, this time by the other side.

Similarly, exonerating Islam and Muslims of all communalism during the freedom movement and after independence will not work. We need a more objective analysis which gives equal weightage to equal evidence which impartially states communalism enflamed by Hindus as well as Muslims.

The historian who tries to whitewash the history of Muslim kings and role of Muslim communalism during freedom struggle loses credibility to counter stupid claims like plastic surgery, stem-cell research and aeroplanes in ancient India. Even when these claims are obviously false and unsupported by any evidence. Therefore, we need a more robustly argued and more fairly interpreted historical narratives which stand their ground in terms of evidence and favour none.   

  • Cow protection

Cow protection and beef ban has become the biggest source of poison in the society. India should abandon the idea of cow protection and remove ban in beef eating in all states. If some Hindus don’t want to eat beef, it is their freedom not to, is some other people want to eat beef it is choice to make. No one has the right to dictate what others should eat or not eat. It does not matter whether beef was eaten by Hindus historically or not. It is completely irrelevant.

However, public display of cow slaughter should be banned. Freedom of religious practices does not mean public display of all those practices. Actually, public display of all cruelty to animals should be banned and dealt with stringent punishment.

The so-called economic reasons for cow protection are no longer valid. Worship of cow by some sections of Hindu society is their private matter. No one is stopping them from continuing their token worship of offering a roti to cows. But they have no right to dictate others to treat cow in the same manner. Therefore, eating beef and production of cow meet should be allowed exactly as production of goat meet is allowed. If some misguided Hindus resist it, they should be dealt with sternly and all state might should be used to curb any unrest they create.

  • Uniform civil code

Democracy is premised on the assumptions (i) that humans can learn to decide for themselves the kind of life they want to lead, (ii) that they can make efforts to realise the kind of life they choose, and (iii) that they can learn to bear the responsibilities of their choices and actions. Therefore, (vi) they should be given the maximum scope to decide for themselves. This leads to democratic values like freedom, equality, justice, fraternity, etc. The fundamental rights that emerge in this discourse are rights guaranteed for the individuals and not for the communities.

As a result, any custom or religious injections that are imposed by the communities, and which encroach upon fundamental rights of persons (as individuals) are necessarily unacceptable in a democracy. Which means that all citizens in a democratic country are to be governed by the same laws. A democracy can not afford different laws for different sections of people. Therefore, uniform civil code is a necessary condition for a democracy to function properly.

However, if some people want to live life according to their community codes, democratic state cannot stop them voluntarily surrendering some (not all, for example right to life cannot be surrendered) of their fundamental rights to the community structures. But the state can not recognise any alternative legal systems.

That leads to the conclusion that there can be no place for personal civil codes be they Hindu, Muslim and any other. No community, including Muslims, has the right to be adamant regarding personal civil code. No state within a state can be allowed. So, uniform civil code should be adopted by the country even if some adamant people continue to oppose it.

  • Religious Conversions

India is a secular democracy which gives every citizen the right to practice and propagate one’s religion. Therefore, freedom to change religion has to be protected, even if Hindus don’t like it. If they feel threated by conversions for genuine change of faith by an individual, they should strengthen their on social fabric and religious education. Blaming others will not do.

But conversion also has issues. Whether we accept it or not there are many conversions happening due to material allurements. And also, various kinds of pressures. Such conversions should definitely be stopped. In the process of conversion denigration and insulting remarks for religions and publication of false interpretations and deliberate lies are order of the day. Such practices have to be curbed.

At a different level, we should also recognise the violence inherent in attempts to convert others. Conversion is an act of cultural and social uprooting, and much of what goes in the name of social service when directed at conversions becomes an act of bigotry. However, it is constitutionally allowed, therefore, has to be protected. The zeal of Abrahamic religions to convert the whole world has shed much blood through out the world, and will be a continued source of tension in India for a long time. The state should make sure that there is no hindrance in changing one’s faith for genuine reasons and there are no pressure and allurements involved.

  • Freedom of speech

Indian constitution guarantees “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”. I am interpreting the ‘expression’ part as freedom to speak one’s mind, ‘freedom of speech’. We hear every day that the government is curbing freedom of speech, this claim is made in connection with intolerance of criticism of the government, BJP, RSS, and PM Modi. However, the loud proclamations of this statement itself and many other much harsher on the government and the PM give a lie to such claims. At the same time, there are TV channels which do not allow the counter view to be articulated at all, and I am sure that is because of the pressure from the government. That is because the media houses come under pressure from the government. Undoubtedly, here the government is guilty.

There are also channels which speak freely against the government and nothing more than BJP people not grating interviews and denying participation in debates on such channels is done to them. Denying interviews and participation is certainly a way of marginalization of these channels and journalists, and in such cases the government is guilty. Thus, as far as the criticism of the government is concerned a systemic marginalization of the critics is being practiced. This has to be resisted.

Since public opinion regarding the five issues I listed above cannot be formed rationally without complete freedom of speech, it is a very important issue for our democracy and secularism today. And citizens can certainly defeat any curbs by the government in the era of social media.

But there are other ways of curbing freedom of speech other than by the government, and to my mind they also do equal harm. One of these ways is concocted public outrage and the government’s failure to protect citizens’ right to freedom of speech. Religion today is not insignificant in India and in my view the greatest danger to our democracy and secularism comes from religion. If one criticizes Hindu practices and Hindu shastras then immediately there is a feigned outrage against such a persona and there might be threats form anti-social elements. If one questions Mohammad and Quran then there are immediate threats of beheading from another set of anti-socials. The Muslim threats are much louder, more frequent and brought to the violent protest on the road much more frequently than the Hindu threats. The state fails to protect the concerned citizens in both cases.

Unless we create an atmosphere of free and frank discussions on religions, unless we can ask harsh questions regarding Hindu, Muslim and Christian practices in this country, we will not be able to stop communal poison in the country. We have to discuss and critique all religious figures be that Rama, Krishna, Muhammad, Christ or Buddha with equal sharpness; with due respect for all believers but no reverence for the religious figures.

Another big threat to open society and cogent debates/discussions is the overbearing political correctness. Political correctness is a form of censorship to protect some lies, and is more dangerous that a direct and proper lie; because it can not be countered. If we want to save democracy and secularism, we have to drop political correctness completely and ask hard questions of all ideologies including religions.

It seems we have to short out these and other such issues before the genuine issues of development and social justice can gain public attention. ******


False consensus festers ill will and weakens democracy

June 2, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

One of the most flamboyant politicians of our nation thinks that opening up issues like article 370 and uniform civil code for debate is a divisive act and it should not happen. That is, Indian public should not express their views on these, and other similar, issues openly. Whatever is decided at one time in our history is decided for ever.

The problem is that a large number of people do talk about these issues and express their dissatisfaction on them. They think that these decisions were made to appease a certain section of the population. Now, this impression of the people might be wrong and they may be squarely misguided by the propaganda of the Sangh Parivar. We must remember that there is a large number of young people who see such issues as unjustifiable in modern India. These people have had no chance to educate themselves about such issues, they have a very different and consumerist conception of democracy. I think by resisting debate on such issues, and even if one enters the debate then simply declaring these issues closed for all time to come leaves this section of population in the hands of the sangh parivar. The argument that sangh parivar builds is: “there are some people who thrive on a vote bank; they misguide the Indian Muslims and rather than working for their development give them emotional issues of no value. It is in the interest of such politicians and parties that these issues remain untouchable raw nerves and never thought through”.

How do people like Mr. Tharoor hope to counter such an argument, even if it is wrong, without debate? Leaving such issues out of debate will certainly make them fissures in the public thinking which will keep on festering unattended.

The only way in a democracy to resolve such problems is debate, an open and deep debate which takes the public to the very core of democratic principles and educates them on the legitimate basis of such decisions. Fighting shy of debates in a democracy is a losing option.

My personal view if that the 2014 election results is also a reflection of slowly emerging “Hindu Political Identity”. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) started work on building such a Hindu political identity in 1925. Its work is bearing fruit. RSS has been propounding theories of Muslims oppressing Hindus for last 1000 years, Muslim appeasement, and Muslim aggression towards Hinduism. The left leaning intellectuals and most of the political formations shied away from a threadbare discussion on such allegations. They propounded theories that look like attempts at ‘explaining away’ rather than explanation for understanding. The intellectuals considered engaging in such debates with low level understanding of RSS ideologues below their intellectual ken. Their short outbursts of anger and dismissals were not properly understood by the public and therefore remained ineffective. Thus leaving the public mind open for Sangh Parivar manipulation.

Yesterday I was talking politics in rural Rajasthan in 43 degree centigrade, sitting in a veranda facing merciless Rajasthani heat. The people involved in the conversation were the ones who could sway the village voters easily. They all were Modi supporters. I asked them: do you really think the Modi government will bring in economic development? Will it make the farmers lot better?

One of them said: I believe it will create more jobs, bachchon ko nokari milegi.

The other said: whatever happens it will show Muslims their place, they are becoming very arrogant and aggressive.

This village has no Muslims, but the nearby villages do; and these people have economic and cultural relations with Muslims. There are about 20 Muslim families in the nearby village who make bangles, and supply to all women folk. Have significant cultural space in marriages when a special set of bangles is supposed to be brought for the bride. Another village, now resembling a township, has more than 200 Muslim families and they are iron-smiths, rajai makers and have several other essential functions in rural economy.

I challenged them to site examples of the local Muslim population when they have behaved aggressively or with undue arrogance. They had none. One of them said: “our Muslims are good. They are like us. But Muslims in Kashmir and where they are in Majority behave differently.”

I asked them how do they know? A young boy, educated to postgraduate level, jumped in: “Look now, we cannot go to Kashmir and by land, but Muslims from Kashmir can buy land anywhere in India. They can marry four times. Their population is increasing. The Hindu population in Bangladesh and Pakistan is decreasing.” All the arguments given for Muslim aggression and appeasement by the Sangh Parivar.

My point is not that the arguments bear any scrutiny; it is rather, without an open debate unfettered by political correctness how do you dispel this mind-set? We should realise that declaring people who ask such questions communal is no more effective in countering such charges. The opinion makers have to take the responsibility more directly and counter such arguments in public; and if there has been any truth in them then have to admit and find alternatives.

Sweeping issues under carpet in a democracy increases fissures in public opinion and weakens the democracy itself. Rather than calling names the opponent has to be seen as an equal citizen and his/her views has to be given a hearing; and have to be proved wrong is they happen to be misguided. Therefore, in spite of anger of Abdullas and timidity of Tharoors these issues have to be dealt with by means of a fair debate; that is, in case we are concerned with the kind of Hindu political identity that is being formed by Sangh parivar and want to arrest its success. Ostriches don’t win, they can only die in denial.

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BJP’s communal agenda: a quick examination

May 25, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

From the manifesto:

Ram Mandir

BJP in its manifesto (page 41) declares “BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.” (Emphasis added)

This is a pledge for “exploring” possibilities and “within the constitutional framework”, and not a commitment. And still it is communal in nature and goes against secularism. The issue is that the state has got nothing to do with the construction of temples or mosques. A political party when mentions this in its election manifesto is trying to garner votes in the name of religion and a government when tries to explore possibilities for construction of a temple is favouring a particular religion.

This is a divisive issue in Indian politics, BJP has used it before and still keeps using it.

Ram Setu

On the same page BJP declares “Ram Setu is a part of our cultural heritage and also of strategic importance due to its vast thorium deposits. These facts will be taken into consideration while taking any decision on ‘Sethu-Samudram Channel’ project.” (Emphasis added)

There is no evidence of what is called Ram Setu being a creation of humans. All evidence shows it is a natural formation. The connection with Rama and his Lanka Vijay is purely mythological, as most probably Ram himself is. Again, this is a communal agenda in favour of one religion (Hinduism). Arguments in connection with Ram Mandir apply here as well.

Ganga

The BJP says “River Ganga is a symbol of faith in India, and has a special place in the Indian psyche. It is Mukti dayini. …Pure water of the Ganga are thus essential for the spiritual as well as physical wellbeing of India.”

Cleaning Ganga is a laudable project. No one can fight with that. But it is laudable for economic and environmental reason. Connecting it with faith, mukti and spirituality in a manifesto is a communal move. The way Modi has talked of Ganga mata in the campaign and has participated in the Ganga Aarti after electoral victory certainly is a communal move to send signals to a certain section of Hindu community.

Cow and its Progeny

The manifesto declares that “Necessary legal framework will be created to protect and promote cow and its progeny.” All reasons given in the manifesto are economic. But the history of BJP and its handling of cow protection makes it plain that it is the “holy cow” that is being protected, not the useful animal that is important in the agricultural activities, for its milk, for its hide and for its meat. It is a not-so-cleverly disguised communal agenda.

Uniform Civil Code

BJP’s declared stand: “Article 44 of the constitution of India lists Uniform Civil Code as one of the Directive Principles of state policy. BJP believes that there cannot be gender equality till such time India adopts a Uniform Civil Code, which protects the rights of all women, and the BJP reiterates its stand to draft a Uniform Civil Code, drawing upon the best traditions and harmonizing them with the modern times.”

This is often attacked by liberals and so-called secularists and seen as something against Muslims. It seems to me that it is a good step and there is nothing communal about it. Having the same code for all citizens of a country is a laudable aim.

Civil codes of communities and religions which go against the rights of a democratic citizen will have to give way. Democracy is not a federation of religions; it is premised on the autonomy of individual in her personal life and setting one’s own life goals. Taking this right away from citizens in the name of religion or communitarian ethics abandons the very principle on with democracy rests.

Article 370

BJP’s stand on article 370 is seen as a communal move against Kashmiri Muslims. What BJP says is “BJP reiterates its stand on the Article 370, and will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to the abrogation of this article.”

This is a complex affair. What exactly are the provisions of the said article is a matter of some exploration for me. The article refers back to other articles and without a study of all the references what exact impact it has on the state and its relationship with the rest of the country if not clear; that is: to me, as it is now.

However, it is clear from reading of the article 370 itself that it (i) gives a special status to J & K; (ii) it is considered temporary; (iii) can be abrogated though a specified constitutional process. Regarding the abrogation the article itself states: “(3) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.”

So where is the problem if BJP is trying to discuss with all stake holders and attempting to abrogate the article? Why should it be considered objectionable and communal in a democracy? In my view BJP is on the right track on this issue.

Natural home for persecuted Hindus from other countries

The manifesto states “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.”

As it stand it clearly privileges Hindus and that is not secular, is clearly communal in this sense.

Pranav Goswami asked Modi in one of his interviews why only “persecuted Hindus” not persecuted Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims? Modi obfuscated on the question and said that his party uses the term “Hindu” as the Supreme Court defined it, ‘a way of life, and not as a religion’. Thus, according to him all ‘Indian origin” people who went or were taken to other countries and are being persecuted there now can come back and India will remain their natural home. If BJP modifies it in this sense, it ceases to privileged Hindus and becomes a secular principle of Indian state.

Then Modi further clarified that it does not apply to Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh; however, Hindus from these two countries are welcome. He did not clarify if Christians, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists from these counties can also find India their natural home if they are persecuted? If BJP accepts this position then I believe it could be justified. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Muslims who remained there at the time of partition or went there at that time consciously forfeited their Indian citizenship and their claim to it. I see no reason to extend this privilege to them now. He also said that at the time of partitions there were 31% Hindus in Bangladesh, but now there are about 7%; this indicated persecution. If his data are correct (I am not sure of that) and there is no other explanation, it points to persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. Persecution of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in Pakistan is no secret.

Therefore, BJP’s stand that (i) it will welcome all Indian origin people (replace “Hindu” in current version with “Indian origin”) if they are persecuted in their countries and seek asylum, (ii) they will welcome all Indian origin people but Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh, if they are persecuted. This makes sense to me. Point two above is considered very controversial and Indian intellectuals consider it non-secular and communal; I personally believe they are wrong and do not have good arguments to support their opinion.

But as the pledge in the manifesto stands today it is only for Hindus and therefore is not secular and is communal in nature.

From Modi’s campaign and speeches and acts

Bangladeshi’s will have to go

Modi declared in Assam and Bengal that Bangladeshi ‘infiltrators’ have to go back.

The Hindu on 9th May 14 published a condemnation of these remarks sent by SEHMAT and sighed by the who’s-who of Indian intelligentsia. They state “We the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the reported remarks of the Prime Ministerial candidate of the NDA at an election rally in West Bengal that “infiltrators” from Bangladesh, belonging to a particular religious community, must be sent back. Apart from the sheer inhumanity of the remark, we fear that in a country in which every citizen does not possess documentary proof of citizenship, such a move would simply cause a general victimization of persons belonging to that particular religious community.”

Their reasons for condemnation seem to be three: (i) it is inhuman to send back people coming from other countries to seek livelihood, (ii) every Indian citizen does not possess proper identification papers and therefore such move will victimize Muslims, and (iii) that Indians are seeking to stay in various countries and we oppose political and other formations in those countries who want to send illegal immigrates back to India.

I find it very difficult to accept the argument that anyone seeking livelihood can enter a country of his/her choice without papers and illegally; and gains the right to live in that country by sheer force of his/her illegal entry. If it would not have come from such august body of intellectuals I would have called it plain silly. But authority itself is no argument and I know no justification for such a stand. If I accept this then I have to accept that Indians who enter other countries illegally have no right to stay there and the people of those counties are right when they want to send them back. We must accept this.

That leaves us with the point (ii) in the paragraph above. That every Indian citizen does not possess proper identification papers and therefore such move will victimise Muslims. This is difficult to deny given the present political and social climate of the country. But we must note two things; (1) this is a practical difficulty in implementation of the move and not an objection directly based on any ethical principle, and (2) acceptance of this practical problem as ‘unsolvable’ puts India in a very vulnerable position. This acceptance means that Muslims from Bangladesh can keep on coming in India and they will just remain here, as it is difficult to identify them. I wonder how the intellectuals can be so insensitive to the majority worry that this stand has changed demography of many border regions of the country. The suspicion of the majority community that some (not all) Muslims and some politicians make this identification difficult and arrange documents like ration cards etc. for some Bangladeshis can hardly be called unfounded. This is actually happening, and by denying such things intellectuals and opinion makers simply push people towards BJP mind-set.

Therefore, acceptance of the problem as unsolvable cannot be a permanent solution. We must find fool-proof methods of identifying infiltrator Bangladeshis and should not make the difficulty in identifying them a plea for letting them live in India. The so-called secular intellectuals are plain wrong here and lose their credibility by taking such positions.

Vishwanath darshan and Ganga Aarati after electoral victory

I have argued in one of my initial blog posts that an individual can be a deeply religious person and can discharge his duties as a judge, politician, bureaucrat or police officer without prejudice, upholding the state policy of secularism. So Modi if goes to thank Vishwanath or offer aarati to Ganga as an individual, it should be no concern of a citizen.

But Modi did not go there an individual. He went there as a Prime Ministerial candidate of a political formation and the political formation supported his visit by making arrangements and so on. If a Prime Minister of a country uses party or state resources and his visibility as a political leader to emphases rituals of any particular religion it is difficult to pass that act as his personal matter and having nothing to do with the secular nature of the state. In this sense Modi did not behave as a secular leader and is unlikely to do so in future.

The religious bias in BJP as per this analysis is clear; and as citizens we have to be vigilant about how it plays out in future. One hopes that the pressure of active citizenship will force BJP and Modi to shun these biases. But that could happen only if the intelligentsia and opinion makers themselves shed their biases against some and in favour of some other religious communities; so far their record has been really bad. Actually, hardly better than BJP but in the opposite direction. Hope they will see the light now as the BJP victory is at the least partly a result of their biased analysis.

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