Looking at the election results of the five States announced day before yesterday, I thought I must reflect on my article in this column titled “Musings on Secular Democracy and Hindu Nationalism” that appeared on Dec.8 and Dec. 9, 2018. Inspiration for that article, in two parts, was an article published in The Hindu of Dec.4, 2018, titled ‘Secular democracy in peril – Indian politics today reminds one of the first decade of the existence of Pakistan’ by a Professor-Scholar Mohammed Ayoob, who works in America.
Well, the results of the elections in the five States prove Prof. Mohammed Ayoob wrong, absolutely wrong. India’s Secular Democracy is not at all in peril, rather it is alive and kicking. The opening paragraph of his article was ominous and did not augur well, in his opinion, for the future of India’s Secular Democracy.
He had written “India is literally at the crossroads with the very future of Secular Democracy at stake.”
Further he had made the prediction as well saying, “The Congress party’s passive Hindutva will in all probability lead to its crushing defeat in the forthcoming general elections because, as a pale imitation of the BJP’s aggressive Hindutva, it cannot compete with the genuine article. Rahul Gandhi and his advisor are confusing contrived demonstrations of personal religiosity with Hindu Nationalism.”
Apparently, Mohammed Ayoob was alluding to, what is considered by the people as a joke, the now famous Rahul Gandhi’s temple-run wherever he went to deliver his election speeches, with a prominent vermilion mark on his forehead — a proof of having visited the temple!
Reacting to the prediction of Mohammed Ayoob that since the ‘Secular Norm’ for an election in India has taken a beating in the recent elections, including the one that just concluded in five States, the Congress would lose, I had written on 9th of this month “We will know if the prediction of Mohammed Ayoob would come true or not.”
Well, sadly for his imaginary apprehension about Hindu majority India losing its character as a Secular Democracy he has been proved totally wrong.
It must be remembered on this occasion that it is only because India is a Hindu majority country this kind of Secular Democracy could survive and remain dynamic and vibrant as we saw just now in the elections held in five States.
Is it not a miracle that Secular Democracy in India is going strong even after 71 years after Independence when we consider that the Communist Government in the Soviet Union (Russia) could not survive for more than 73 years? The divided India’s other part, Pakistan, could not remain a Secular Democracy. Pakistan became an Islamic country making the minorities (Hindu, Christian and others) second-class citizens.
However, there is bound to be a greater upsurge of Hindu Nationalism in the future if the political parties manipulate and amend the Constitution of India to suit their electoral advantage forgetting the sentiments of the majority Hindus. All the institutions created under the Constitution too have a very great responsible role to play. They should play the role keeping in mind ultimate good of all sections of the people by taking such decisions that would help preserve and strengthen the Secular Democracy.
This should not be a mere pious hope of a helpless citizen of this country, the common man, no matter to which religion, caste or creed he belongs. According to me, Indian voters are more patriotic and Secular than a large number of leaders holding high positions under our laws and the Constitution of India.
By the way, the victory of Congress party with wafer-thin majority in two States is certainly not an endorsement of the voters for the party in the 2019 Parliamentary election. Therefore, no need to gloat over the present victory. But then, as Indira Gandhi had once said “The whole world loves the winner.” And of course, the loser is an orphan. However, I don’t perceive BJP as a loser to the point of calling it an orphan.
Be that as it may, I am very happy that the BJP lost in Madhya Pradesh. I am reminded of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution of the USA which says “No person shall be elected to the Office of the President more than twice.” In fact, the amendment curbs any individual, under varying circumstances, to hold the office of the President for more than two terms. In America, the term of the President is four years unlike in India where it is five years.
I guess, we Indians must learn a lesson from this amendment. Though our Constitution has no such limitation and our political parties and leaders are happily taking advantage of this opportunity, thanks to intelligent Indian voters. Our voters have implemented the 2-term-only principle in Madhya Pradesh where BJP ruled for 3 terms — 15 years!
They taught Indira Gandhi a lesson for declaring Emergency and thereafter to the squabbling, quarrelsome, cantankerous Janata Party which was a strange animal, an admixture of all Opposition parties with the single agenda of defeating Indira Gandhi. Just as the present coming together of the Opposition parties with the single agenda of defeating Narendra Modi in the 2019 Parliamentary election. Let it be.
We must remember when the Janata Party which came to power in 1978 and collapsed under its own weight of political irresponsibility in 1980, the intelligent Indian voters brought back Indira Gandhi to power with a thumping majority. The same kind of mandate the Indian voters might give to Narendra Modi for a second term in the 2019 Parliamentary elections discarding the rag-tag coalition of the Opposition parties.
It is for these reasons, I welcome the defeat of BJP in Madhya Pradesh, where it has ruled for 15 long years and I am sure such a long rule must have put the BJP in a state of administrative fatigue to be of any good for the development of the State.
And as the saying goes ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. We have seen this during the second term of the long, continuous ten-year rule under UPA. And we the voters should not allow this to happen under BJP rule too. After two terms of BJP, we must go for Congress, even if Rahul is the choice for PM.
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