By Zulafqar Ahmed
India has been epitome of pluralism, tolerance, and diversity since ages. Religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity of India has left inerasable imprints all over the world. Varieties of social groups and ideological differences among the communities could not shake the unity of India. The India which was imagined by the Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Patel, Azad, Ashfaqullah, and Baghat Singh was that India, where love ruled over hatred, mutual-coexistence ruled over exclusion. Diversity, inclusiveness, and tolerance of India remained intact even during the successive governments.
Unfortunately, after the rise of BJP in power in 2014, they successfully arrested the idea of ‘Old India’ which was imagined by our forefathers. Narendra Modi led BJP government has given new shift to the Indian politics. This government has made majority to believe that their pride has been hurt and their identity is under threat. Intermittently, saying this lie made people to believe that it is time to reclaim lost pride and identity under the patronage of Narendra Modi. Opposition has almost failed to counter this narrative of Modi led BJP government. They don’t have any clear vision and agenda which can mobilize the masses whereas BJP and RSS have clear vision of making ‘New India’ which would be more centralized, strong, masculine and technocratic.
Demonisation of Minorities
After the emergence of BJP in power, minorities are feeling more vulnerable under this regime than any other regime. They were made first target of vilification in order to project them as fictitious enemy which further unified the majority community. Certainly, there were several fault-lines which were exist in India before the rise of BJP but they hardly erupted into violence. It was BJP which battered these fault-lines for electoral gains. BJP has invoked hatred, fear, intimidation and extra-judicial methods to suppress minorities. Lynching has become new norm of the day and ‘Jai Shree Ram’ has become national chant to heckle, thrash, and killed Muslims. This has been instilled in social psyche that Muslims are the foreign invaders and they are the real threat for India’s unity.
A social consensus and consent is being generated for the performance of this violence against the Muslims, Dalits and Christians. Street violence and lynching is being done with the help of well framed organizational structure that goes by the name ‘Gau rakshaks. They are the vigilante mob, backed by the ruling government to beat and kill the Muslims. The most horrific part of this violence is ‘deliberate silence’ of the top leadership of the ruling party which further encourages lynch mob.
Demise of Nehruvian Left/Liberal Secularism.
Indeed, secularism has been most debatable concept in India and it has created many confusions. But what is true is that Secularism in India was clearly Nehruvian vision. It was essentially about state policy towards all religions. It was meant that state will keep distance from all religions. Nehruvian secularism is social philosophy which has wider canvas. It not only aspires for tolerance but it also seeks mutual-respect among all caste, regional, ethnic and linguistic groups. Nehruvian left/liberal secularism indeed expects generosity of majority community towards the minority community. This narrative to a greater extent remained continue even during successive government. But after the rise of BJP in power, they got succeed in projecting that secularism is ‘Pro-minorities’.
It was also argued that progressive/liberal intellectuals are hypocrites; they remained silent on the bigotry of minorities’ community which helped BJP to mobilize the majority community under their patronage. Selective outrage of progressive/ liberals intellectuals made people to believe that secularism is prejudicial. Regarding Nehruvian Left/Liberal secularism Avijit Pathak rightly agued “Today, we find ourselves in a strange situation. It is a world where there is neither Nehruvian Left-centric secularism nor Gandhian spiritualized religions co-exists.”
In the regime of BJP government, where minorities are under the grave threat and where democratic values like inclusiveness, tolerance, and secularism are on deathbed; onus goes to opposition to counter the narratives which have been created by BJP. It is also high time for opposition to reclaim these democratic values which kept Indian democracy alive for many years. Here, it is also pertinent to mention that if Modi led BJP government is really desperate for making ‘New India’ then they should work for more digitalized, industrialized, tolerant and inclusive India.