Dec 08, 2023
Dec 08, 2023
Nationalism and Freedom of Expression are two much talked about concepts and at the same time so often misinterpreted and abused in the current Indian polity as also society. It’s so much so that even the connotation and nuances of the nationalism change depending upon who is talking about it. For instance, if a Hindu person talks about the nationalism, he is often outrightly declared as a rightist and Hindu nationalist by the certain section of media, political party(ies) or the traditional Indian secularists/liberals who hold the Hindu nationalism as a potentially dangerous and a serious threat to the modern India as a secular nation. On the other hand, if the person with a minority tag or a left or left-centric approach talks about the nationlism, he is lauded as the true nationalist and patriot.
Similarly, on the issue of the Freedom of Speech too while some people realize the true value of this liberty enshrined in the Indian Constitution and speak responsibly duly exercising restraints including ones having a bearing on the national security and international relations but there others who feel that they have right to speak or write anything that comes to their mind or whatever best serves their interests. This free for all tendency often creates flutter, confusion and conflicts among the people of various groups and communities even to the extent of jeopardizing the institutional and national interests.
During the past few years and particularly after 2014, there has been phenomenal increase in the instances of raging controversies involving the issues like the nationalism, secularism and intolerance by the interested groups and parties mainly to score over their political or ideological rivals. Some controversies have been deliberately planted in the electronic and social media to trigger controversial debates while many instances of apolitical individual or group conflicts and clashes too were intentionally given colours to derive mileage by the interested groups. Unfortunately, the worst offenders in this context are either political and religious leaders or people affiliated to them. The greater cause of concern is the frequent involvement of the two major national parties with such controversies and dubious role of the oldest party which was directly associated with the freedom struggle and ruled this country for the most period since independence. The author intends to refer to some such instances and analyse them in this article with a brief introduction of issues involved.
Concept of Nationalism
In the long history of civilization, the concept of nationalism is relatively of the recent origin. The origin of the English term dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century in Europe which in the following years increasingly became one of the most significant social and political forces among the dominant nations and is even listed among the top reasons of the two World Wars in the twentieth century. Historians, scholars and even politicians have given various definitions of the nationalism. In a nutshell, the nationalism is a political, social and economic system evolved through promoting the interests of a sovereign country free from any outside interference and linked with the concept of self-determination.
The nationalism is oriented towards evolving and sustaining a national identity based on the shared values like culture, language, race, religion, political objectives etc. It often imbibes a belief system and pride of certain cultural or other legacies among the nationals and a notion that their nation is better and superior to others in the given aspects. Nationalism is often synonymised with the patriotism. However, probably the most delicate difference between the two is that the nationalist feels allegiance and pride for his country no matter what it does in a sort of blind patronage, while the patriot is proud of his country for what he does i.e. an inclination with a sense of responsibility. According to George F Will, an American conservative political commentator, the nationalism is patriotism transformed into a sentiment of superiority and aggression toward other countries thereby making it a potentially harmful ideology if not dealt with prudently. In the current scenario, India has its own variants of nationalism and consequent interpretation and fallouts like the ones referred to in the opening para.
Secularism: Indian and Western Concept
Ordinarily, in Indian context the secularism implies equal treatment to all religions without endorsing or giving any preferential treatment to any one by the state. The term secular was included in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution through the 42nd amendment in 1976 but neither the Constitution nor any other law specifically defines the relationship between the state and religion. The laws, however, implicitly ask the state and its institutions to recognise all religions, enforce parliamentary laws, and recognise and respect pluralism in the country. Notwithstanding these provisions, there is a clear dichotomy in the applicable code of law because Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains in the country live under the common law but the Muslim population has a separate Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law including the matters such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, alimony etc. Such inequality has created a large number of serious social and political issues such as polygamy, extrajudicial and unequal divorce rights, inheritance rights, improving the quality of education in religious institutions etc.
As against this in Western countries, the secularism implies complete separation of the religion from State. However, several Western countries are officially secular yet they endorse an official state religion. Germany, England and many other West European countries have mixed population with the majority Christians and other minority religious groups yet the countries are officially designated as Christian nation. Thus Indian secularism is radically different from the conception of secularism in the Western Europe which does not even pretend to have equality or impartiality in the matters of religion.
While the Indian concept might appear more rational but its application by the state has been a cause of the social and religious conflicts as the political parties are known to ignite issues and take sides for consolidating their voters’ base to stay in power. While several political parties including the Communists and Socialists are in the play but in essence it is the role of two dominant national parties viz. Indian National Congress (INC or Congress) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) that really matters grossly influencing the socio-religious and political fabric of the nation.
The INC, historically most popular and dominant political party established in 1885, is one with a broad-base that participated in the freedom struggle under the stewardship of Mahatma Gandhi and ruled this country for almost six decades after independence. Traditionally, the Congress has the image so carved of a secular party on a social-liberal platform and centre-left leanings in the Indian politics. The other one is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), currently the largest political party in terms of strength in the parliament and state assemblies which is largely known for its right-wing ideology and close linkage with the staunch nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The party has undergone several transformations since it was first established in 1951 as the Bhartiya Jan Sangh, and is often identified for its commitment to Hindutva.
Ironically, despite the professed ideology of an equal treatment to all religions without endorsing or giving any preferential treatment to any one by the state, the Indian (or Congress) brand of secularism constantly failed to follow it in the letter and spirit under the long years of the Congress regime since independence. The Party has been often accused of giving a preferential treatment and appeasement to the Muslim minority community recognising them culturally different from other Indians religions and Christians for electoral gains. In fact, an ex-prime minister is on record to say that the Muslims minority has the first and foremost right on the national resources. In India, supporters of this form of secularism claim themselves as true secularists and liberals who oppose a uniform civil code on the plea that equal laws for all citizens, irrespective of their religion, would impose majoritarian Hindu sensibilities and ideals.
On the other hand, the BJP favours uniform treatment of all communities by the state laws and holds that separate Sharia and religious laws for Muslims violate the principle of equal human rights, discriminate against Muslim women, permit religious entities to interpret religious laws at discretion, thereby creating the plurality of the unequal citizenship; Hence India must take measures to completely separate religion and state in the true spirit of secularism and stop special consideration for one community. Ironically, they are constantly charged as a communal force for this approach by the left-centric Congress, communist and socialist parties, and traditional secularists and liberals; many of them derive pleasure to be acknowledged as rationalists and intellectuals too.
Freedom of Expression and Speech
The Constitution of India provides to its citizens the Freedom of speech and expression under the Article 19, as one of the six freedoms. It states: Everyone has the right to freedom of speech and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. One could express ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others' character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. The freedom of press or media is also part of the freedom of expression.
The clause (2) of the same article specifically provides that nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. Thus the stated freedom comes with certain responsibility and riders but because of the nature of its interpretation and implementation in the court of law, violations and offenses of its abuse are difficult to establish and punish the violators.
INC: Degenerating Political Ethos and Ethics
It’s a pity that the legendary INC with such a glorious past and iconic leadership have sunken to an all-time low credibility and morale due to all-pervading sycophancy, cacophony, policy of appeasement, divisive politics, poor ethics and continued dynastic order. The obsequious and desperate behaviour of many top leaders suggest that they just cannot live in peace with the truth of being an opposition party which should play a role of a healthy opposition through the constructive criticism of the government policies, endeavour to influence electorate through good political and moral behaviour, and wait till they are mandated again to rule the country. Some of them are resorting to all sorts of activities and gimmicks in order to remain in limelight and gain advantage; some of such activities could easily be interpreted by common man or played by opponents as detrimental and damaging to the cause of the nation.
Two recent instances are cited here to illustrate the above points.
Aiyar’s Dinner Diplomacy Backfires:
This really started with a bitter criticism and personal attack on Prime Minister Modi by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, ex-Minister and a Congress veteran, in the media and press on 7th December 2017 with unparliamentary words which inter alia included the Hindi term ‘Neech’, while the heat and dust for the campaigning for the Gujarat State Assembly Elections was still on. He remarked, “Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai, …”. The term Neech literally highlights a person in a very poor light and low esteem with multiple connotations like a banal, degenerate, despicable, contemptible, or even a low born. Only Mr Aiyar would exactly know what he wanted to convey but the term is clearly an unparliamentary word of abuse by all means and it instantly generated a sharp reaction from various echelon including a large section of the media and BJP.
Almost simultaneously it was also leaked that on the preceding day Mr Aiyer had a private party and closed door meeting with the visiting ex-foreign minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and the current Pakistani ambassador in India at his Delhi residence wherein Indian luminaries like Dr Manmohan Singh, ex-Prime Minister, Mr Hamid Ansari, ex-Vice President, many other ex-diplomats and a retired army chief were also present. With the campaigning of the Gujarat elections still on, taking the offence as also advantage of the situation, Mr Modi instantly charged the Congress in a public gathering of holding a ‘secret meeting’ with the Pakistani officials inter alia with an intention to influence the Gujarat elections. This was followed by the exchange of more allegations and counter-allegations by the leaders of both the rival parties. In a damage control, the Congress tried to distance itself from Aiyar’s outrageous ‘Neech’ remark and suspended him from the primary membership of the party.
The controversy, however, refused to die down with aggrieved and anguished Dr Manmohan Singh citing his clean record in public life and demanding from Mr Modi an apology to the nation for spreading ‘falsehood and canards’ about the event. However, what exactly transpired at the Aiyar’s residence on 6th December and what issues were discussed among the participants, was not revealed and kept a closely guarded secret. Even the nature of event remains shrouded in mystery because initially it was completely denied by the Congress leaders, subsequently some agreed that it was just a private dinner while some others said it was a meeting to discuss India-Pakistan relations.
In author's opinion it would be too far-fetched conclusion to assume that in the stated meeting strategies for the Gujarat election would have been discussed unless some specific clue to that effect surfaces out. In today’s political environment, it is simply like a loose ball thrown in cricket is bound to be played for a six and this is what the BJP appears to have done for their electoral advantage, if any. But the kind of notoriety Aiyar have achieved in the past through his demeanour and, at times, outrageous utterances, any slip-sod discussion or reference to a current political event cannot be entirely ruled out in the said meeting.
Only sometime back, Aiyar during a visit to Pakistan had unambiguously spoken to his patrons there against the BJP government and Prime Minister while simultaneously glorifying ex- President, General Musharraf of Pakistan for his role in India-Pakistan dialogue during the last UPA regime. A few excerpts are relevant – “…Hamein le aiye, inko hataiye, aur koi tarika nahi hai.” (Bring us, remove him; there is no other way). No wonder Mr Modi reacted to this statement with Supari (killing contract) query in his election rally that reminds me an episode from the legendary novel ‘Godfather’ by Mario Puzo. When the proposal of drugs’ trade by the antagonist gangsters is refused by the reluctant Don Carleone and the former give a counter offer of a handsome money in return making Don’s elder son suddenly interested, the antagonists immediately proceeded to liquidate Don in anticipation that they can subsequently do smooth business with the Corleone family. When the Pakistani host reminded Aiyar that only they (Congress party) can remove him, Aiyar promptly responded, “Haan, hum hatayenge; lekin tab tak jara aapko bhi intejar karna hoga.” (Yes, we will remove him but then you should also patiently wait till then).
The truth is that in the past initiative was taken by Mr Atal Bihari Bajpai, another BJP veteran and ex-Prime Minister for the normalization of relationship with Pakistan which was derailed by the betrayal of Musharraf who actively encouraged and sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India during his regime and before. More recently, he has openly endorsed Hafiz Saeed, an internationally condemned terrorist banned by the United Nations and even shown willing to accommodate Saeed's terror outfit in his electoral alliance for the next Pakistani general elections.
In the whole episode, the most objectionable part is when the news of the stated meeting with the Pakistani officials with the Congress leaders came in public, it was immediately denied by not one but several spokesmen of the Congress. It was only after the undeniable proofs emerged that the Congress leaders conceded the truth of meeting citing it a private dinner and went on offensive to seek apology from the prime minister for his election remarks. To justify the event, another narrative has been floated in the media and press that the secret or clandestine meeting with Pakistan is not new and they were, in fact, held by the likes of Mr Lal Krishna Advani and others in the past much before the Congress did.
Here any rational and logical thinker would take following points into consideration:
There is no issue in meeting of any opposition party/leader(s) with the foreign diplomats and nationals but there is a defined protocol and one must follow this protocol for the sake of abiding rules and preserving the national interests and order;
If Aiyar intended talks with the Pakistani diplomats and ex-foreign minister to improve India-Pakistan relations, he should have certainly informed the Ministry of the External Affair and kept them in loop. The Congress party has been for long in power and the senior leaders cannot pretend ignorance of rules and international protocol;
The Congress cannot derive analogy with Mr Modi or Mr Advani for their out-of-box diplomacy or secret talks with Pakistani counterparts to explore peace process for the simple reason that when they did it, they were part of government in that capacity with the requisite mandate, and such strategies are indeed at times resorted to in the national interest to deal with sensitive issues avoiding undue media or public galore and scrutiny. A private citizen or an ex-minister, however important office held in the past, he does not qualify in the same category.
Whatever discreetly transpired in the meeting of Aiyar Inc with Pakistani ambassador and ex-foreign minister, even if it is found not in violation of rules yet ethically it is clearly untenable. Also it doesn’t help the peace process between India and Pakistan in any way when the government representatives are kept away and the contents of meeting or outcome is not revealed.
Gandhi Scion in Chinese Embassy:
There will be hardly any Indian who is not aware of the Doklam crisis of June-July 2017 and how it was resolved by the Indian determination to stop the Chinese encroachment in Doklam through a road construction; the scuffle that followed between the armed soldiers of the two countries; escalation of hostilities while India firmly stood to his ground through the aggressive military posturing and diplomatic assault; the two countries coming almost at the brink of armed conflict; and finally, diffusion of crisis through simultaneous withdrawal of troops by both the countries from the disputed area.
While the simmering tension between India and China was at peak, the then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (now president) visited the Chinese embassy to meet the Chinese ambassador, Luo Zhaohui, on July 8 along with some family members and the meeting was not notified. The news figured in the public domain when a press release was posted on the Chinese embassy website on the following day. However, the Congress senior leaders and party spokesmen vehemently denied any such meeting, following which the news item was removed from the Chinese website. When the issue escalated, Rahul Gandhi himself admitted on twitter on the following day to have met the Chinese envoy – "It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese ambassador, ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese ambassador." Mr Gandhi and other Congress leaders made counter offensive questioning Prime Minister Modi’s China policy and visit of some ministers to Beijing while the Doklam imbroglio was still on.
The following points are relevant for consideration:
When the Congress party came in denial mode, the alleged post was removed by the Chinese embassy;
he Congress leaders vehemently denied the meeting initially and went on offensive after conceding it;
While the Congress vice-president preferred to seek the hostile country’s take on the conflict, he didn’t deem it necessary to first obtain facts, official version and stand of own government on the conflict.
There is a well-defined and laid down protocol for dealing with the foreign diplomats and dignitaries and Gandhi scion didn’t deem it necessary to follow it.
From the above episode, the Congress and its leader are again seen in a poor limelight whether it is the need of compliance of rules and procedures on diplomatic protocol or showing the spirit of unity against the enemy nation. If a person or party has not committed any wrong, they should neither be secretive about their dealings nor deny it. Leaders of the two national parties may be rivals at home but when it is an external threat, they need to unite and put joint efforts to deal with the enemy if they are true nationalist and patriot. Such secret ventures without taking official machinery in confidence only weaken the stand and prospects of a nation during the crisis. Smart politicians might justify their arrogance and unscrupulous conduct to score points but they must know that nobody is above the law of the land and the Indian people have enough wisdom and potential to show them mirror and the nemesis they deserve.
Policy of Minority Appeasement
The secularism in true sense is the complete separation of the religion from state and equal treatment of all citizens irrespective of their religious faith. On the contrary, the very reference of the secularism in the Indian context practically brings two communities, Hindus and Muslims, to the fore of the conflict and controversies by the politicians.
Ex-Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, while addressing the 52nd meeting of the National Developmental Council (NDC) in December 2006 made following observation, "We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruits of development. These must have the first claim on resources."
The fact remains that Muslims had been identified as the traditional vote bank for the ‘secular’ Congress since independence and the successive (Congress) governments have been spending hundreds of crores money every year mainly on “two fruits of development” viz. Madrassa education and Haj travel subsidy with hardly any checks and review in the name of development and empowerment of the minority community. Most of the Madrassas impart only religious education and the subsidy facilitates them to travel to Saudi Arabia for Haz pilgrimage. While the money thus spent for the development produce zealot Muslims but the real development i.e. modern education in science and technical courses, opportunities in public and private sector jobs, improvement in standard of living and outlook continue to allude them even after seventy years of the independence.
Clearly, it would be in the best interest of the Muslim community if the amount is spent on the modern (higher and technical) education and augmenting business/job opportunities through self-employment. If this has not happened in so for, the national political party that has ruled for most of the years constantly compromising with the hard-liners in the community for own electoral gains would have to share responsibility and blame.
The worst example of the appeasement of Muslim minority made by the Congress government with a massive mandate under Rajiv Gandhi in 1980s was overturning of a verdict of the Supreme Constitutional Bench upholding the judgement of the Mumbai High Court granting alimony from the husband to the divorcee Shah Bano Begum through a Parliamentary Act under the title ‘The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986’ succumbing to the pressure of the Muslim hardliners. Even recently, in another suit of Shayara Bano and others challenging the validity of the triple talaq which another Supreme Court Constitutional Bench decided in favour of litigant women, Kapil Sibbal, a senior lawyer and Congress Leader was found giving rather bizarre arguments for upholding this discriminatory and unethical practice that grossly violates the rights of the Indian Muslim women.
The Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides - "The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." The Supreme Court has held that a common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to laws which have conflicting ideologies. Despite being instrumental in writing and implementing the Indian Constitution while remaining in power for almost 60 years, the Congress Party never took an initiative towards working on this constitutional provision. The story doesn’t stop here if another party or individual ever raises the issue of the common civil code, the Congress party opposes it tooth and nails in the name of secularism alleging them as communal.
The point is how long they will continue with this brand of secularism and appeasement policy. If it is not working in their favour which is now evident with the electorate is increasing rejecting them through the ballot paper. It is high time for the introspection and stopping further polarisation of the society by taking corrective measures.
Oxygenating Anti-National Sentiments
The Indian communists, some socialists and traditional secularist/liberal brigade have their own fantastic views on the issues like the nationalism, secularism, tolerance and freedom of expression. Therefore, in the name of the freedom of expression, when they appear to be sympathising or even supporting activities ordinarily debated as terrorism or anti-national activities, it does not come as a surprise. Also the people like Mani Shankar Aiyar who are long known for their admiration and bonhomie with the Kashmiri separatists and people have stopped even taking it seriously but it certainly causes concern and alarm when the oldest INC and its frontline leaders are found hobnobbing and making common cause with such elements.
Enormous poll debacle in 2014 parliamentary elections followed by repeated failures of the party to convince voters in the subsequent many state assemblies elections have indeed left serious impact on the morale and psyche of the Congress leaders with a question mark on the future of the party. Barring a few intermittent spells, a party which constantly ruled the country for such a long period is simply unable to reconcile with the fact that the erstwhile minnows are now calling shots riding on the popularity waves pushing them to the oblivion. Consequently, out of sheer desperation or in a hurry to dislodge the BJP, they are found willing to join hands with any party or group, including people or organizations with dubious and doubtful credentials or integrity. Two incidents in the recent past are cited here to illustrate the above submission.
Rohith Vemula Suicide:
On 3 August, 2015, Rohith Vemula, an alleged dalit PhD student at the University of Hyderabad, along with a few other student accomplices made demonstration against the death penalty of Yakub Memon, a convicted terrorist involved in the 1993 Bombay bombings. Consequently, the University took disciplinary action against them suspending them from the academics and also barring from their hostel. Following this, Vemula committed suicide in January, 2016 that sparked widespread outrage and protest citing a case of discrimination against dalits because several political parties including the Congress plunged into the fray to raise issues like dalit atrocity, intolerance and curtailment of freedom of speech. Following Vemula’s death, the caste controversy also erupted about his dalit status and hence a formal inquiry was ordered by the government. The inquiry revealed that Vemula had arranged a Dalit caste certificate for the University admission and by parentage he actually belonged to other backward classes (OBC). However, among the claims and counter-claims by various interested groups, the cast controversy too refused to die down for long.
The issue was so politicised that Rahul Gandhi, the then Congress Party vice-President, chose to visit Hyderabad twice in a short spell, spent time with the agitating students and Vemula’s family members besides participating in the mid-night candle march and protest for the alleged atrocity against the dalit student and curtailment of the freedom of speech holding the Modi Government at the Centre directly responsible for the episode besides growing intolerance and injustice in the country. Needless to mention, such was the momentum and intensity of the protest that the dozens of academicians, authors and artists returned their awards in protest against the BJP government at the Centre.
JNU Students’ Row:
On 9 February 2016, a group of university students organized an event protesting the execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri terrorist convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack and Maqbool Bhat, another Kashmiri terrorist and co-founder of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Earlier, the University administration had refused to grant permission apprehending the nature of event proposed in the garb of a cultural evening, photo and art exhibition but the students had gone ahead to organize the event citing their freedom of speech and expression. Allegedly, during the event several anti-India slogans were raised apart from provocative speeches against the alleged extra-judicial killings of the ibid Kashmiri terrorists (heroes in their view) and right of self-determination of Kashmiris.
The event invited a protest from another rival group of students in the campus with pro-India slogans and nationalist fervour and a FIR too was lodged. Following the episode, the University administration initiated disciplinary action and police registered a case of sedition arresting a few suspects including Kanhaiya Kumar, the erstwhile student leader and president of the students’ union. It is a well-known fact that the JNU has traditionally been a stronghold of leftist ideology with many students and even professors openly taking sides with the Communist parties and movement. What could have been normally dealt with as the students’ indiscipline and unrest problem and amicably settled by the University administration, the event suddenly became a national agenda and campus as hotbed for the political parties’ battle ground exchanging verbal allegations and abuse.
As expected, the Communist parties and few other opposition parties taking side with the controversial student leaders blamed the government at the Centre for the action of the authorities in the campus citing it an attempt of the BJP to push its Hindu nationalist agenda. However, the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too joined the agitating students at the JNU to express his Party’s solidarity with their cause and take the battle to the President House. Justifying the event of the students to assemble and speak as the right of freedom of expression and speech, he reportedly said, “It seems only the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have the licence to say who is a traitor and who is a patriot". He met the President of India along with several party MPs over the JNU row complaining against the BJP government at the Centre for targeting students in various parts of the country by supressing their right of expression and speech.
Let’s consider the students’ noble cause here. In the name of the freedom of speech and expression, they were openly taking side and justifying the action of the convicted terrorists who were prosecuted and punished by the Supreme Court after following the due procedure settled under the law on the charges of murder and waging war against the nation. There are enough recorded evidences that the speeches made and slogans raised by some of the students and alleged outsiders were seditious, hateful and outrageous enough to malign and violate the integrity of the nation.
What could be more unfortunate and regretful if some elements openly speak to break/breach the nation in thousand parts and the top leader(s) of the oldest national party joins hands with them justifying their action as the freedom of speech and expression. Political leaders might do it keeping an eye on harvesting some intended benefits for the party but there could not be more shameful and damaging act than an attempt to encourage and encash sentiments against the very nation that gives everything including name, fame and identity to the very person(s).
The communism is losing charm world over; In India, they are fast losing their traditional holds in a few states like West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala and will increasingly be irrelevant in the Indian political and social ethos in the near future. The socialist movement too is losing its charm and the parties claiming socialist legacy are increasingly resorting to regional, caste and creedal cards in various regions to retain their base. The majority populace is interested in peace, prosperity, development and better opportunities in life which these parties are unable to deliver with their short term goals and truncated vision without any national perspective.
In a democratic and secular country like India basically two strong and broad-based political parties are needed for the good governance, healthy and strong opposition as suitable alternative. It is true that the BJP in the initial years have risen to the power largely riding on the wave of Hindutva legacy and idealism. But then this has happened largely because of the sustained faulty and partial governance by the INC with a truncated vision and application of the ideals like the nationalism, secularism, tolerance, and freedom of speech and expression to serve their political interests. A national party cannot justify that a particular community has the first claim on the national resources ignoring the needs and sentiments of the majority people. Also they should not buckle under the pressure of the hardliners of one community to allow continued gender repression and injustice and thereby failing to ensure social justice for all.
It is a high time now that the Congress leadership do serious introspection and take corrective measures in the interest of the party and nation lest they will to lose their ground and relevance in future. The true secularism implies the separation of religion from the state but the Indian people would also accept the equal treatment to all religions without any preferential treatment to any one by the state. Similarly, the nationalism has only one meaning and ethos for all nationals and there is no need to coin ‘Hindu Nationalism’ contemptuous to the majority people. It was the Congress which included article 44 under the Constitution yet they are the ones so far protecting and abating grave gender discrimination and injustice under the influence of the hardliners in the minority community when many of such retrograde and abusive practices are not followed in several Islamic countries.
Tolerance has been a long tradition ingrained in Hinduism and Hindu manas (heart and mind) since Vedic age and, therefore, the occasional acts of a handful reactionary Hindus mostly in response to some grave provocation should not be used as a tool to defame the Hindu masses and the rival national party and in turn the nation. Lastly, the Constitution provided the freedom of speech and expression but it comes with certain riders and responsibilities. Hence the Congress party must stop supporting and justifying this liberty by the elements misusing it for airing their anti-national sentiments for own electoral gains. The country certainly need a healthy and strong opposition as also an alternative to the ruling party and the Congress must assume this role and responsibility by adopting correct policies and being true to every Indian avoiding past mistakes.
More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh