Headley's revelation on Ishrat Jahan exposes 'seculars'

Their meaningless opposition is entirely focused on defaming Modi by abusing the much maligned tenet in the Constitution.

 |  6-minute read |   12-02-2016
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In its simplest form, the term “secularism” implies that religion will not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society. Specifically, in the political context, it involves a clear demarcation between religion and the state. Our Constitution pronounces India as a secular state. True to its spirit, the political discourse in India since independence has largely been secular. Even the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which subscribes to Hindu nationalism, has always accepted and respected the secular mandate of the Constitution and refrained from giving a religious colour to governance. Even other political parties, irrespective of their various shades of opportunism to lure voters, have not questioned the secular nature of the Indian state.

However, ever since the emergence of BJP as a credible and potent political force, the concept of secularism has been reduced to a mere tool to attack the saffron party and appease the electorally significant Muslim voters. The fight for Muslim votes could have been a healthy competition amongst the “secular” brigade had they focused on the welfare of this economically and educationally marginalised group. However, as BJP has grown from strength to strength, these so-called secular parties have used the flimsiest of excuses to condemn the party and its leaders with the sole aim to attract Muslim votes.

Thanks to the canard spread by the Opposition parties, which has raised the bogey of insecurity in the country’s second largest majority community - the Muslims - whose votes have repeatedly been used to defeat the BJP rather than the electorate's progress and upliftment. The demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya in the early 1990s and the Gujarat riots a decade later have provided more ammunition for such a nefarious ploy.

Due to his strong persona, the Hindu nationalist image and track record as a good administrator, Narendra Modi has been specifically targeted by secular parties and their fringe associates for more than two decades. However, despite a series of vicious attacks and repeated attempts to malign this image, the resounding verdict in favour of Narendra Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has badly scarred the so-called secular forces. Since then, they have used all possible illogical, immoral and unethical means to defame the prime minister and his party. Thus, the concept of secularism as a political ideology or an electoral tool needs to be objectively analysed in the light of few recent events.

The revelation by David Coleman Headley that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar terrorist has raised serious doubts about the real intentions of the secular forces in India, which had left no stone unturned to prove that the Ishrat's encounter in 2004 was fake and Gujarat Police had killed her as part of the larger Hindutva agenda. The entire drama around Ishrat’s encounter questions the nationalism of those who attempted to take up the cause of a terrorist suicide bomber. In another similar kind of case, BJP president Amit Shah, who was then Gujarat home minister, was falsely implicated in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. In 2010, Shah had to suffer 90 days in jail before getting bail with court’s observation that “there is no prima facie evidence against Shah”.

Finally In 2015, a special CBI court acquitted Shah of all charges with a remark that “entire case was politically motivated”. In this case also the "secular" brigade has not been able to digest court’s verdicts and has consistently been attempting to malign the image of the BJP president despite court’s verdict in his favour.

In democratic India, the court’s verdict is considered to be sacrosanct, but the desire among the secularists to make martyrs out of terrorists has been so strong that they now have scant regard for the law of the land and its judicial processes. The recent developments in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) bear testimony to this - a group of Left-oriented students have portrayed Afzal Guru as a martyr and gone on to raise anti-India slogans. Despite the fact that Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru was given number of legal opportunities to prove his innocence, a motley group of secular intellectuals, and activists had created hue and cry against Afzal’s hanging. The infamous midnight attempt by senior lawyer and former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan to stall the hanging of another 1993 blast accused Yakub Memon is also well known. It is pertinent to point here that even a liberal nation like USA will never allow agitations that glorify Osama in America and call for destruction of that country.

The discussion on this issue will be incomplete without a dispassionate analysis of the famous intolerance debate. History bears testimony that unfortunately India has been witnessing communal conflict since the pre-Independence era. Hundreds and thousands of innocents have been killed and that includes Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. However, to my utter surprise, it has taken more than seven decades to realise that India is intolerant just because Narendra Modi-led BJP is now ruling the country. While the unfortunate killing of a Muslim man had resulted in award wapsi, with India being dubbed intolerant by all and sundry, there was not even a whimper of protest from the secularists when a huge group of Muslims stormed Malda town of West Bengal and torched a police station, government vehicles and ransacked Hindu houses. 

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited for an event in Jamia Millia University. Even before Modi’s office could respond, protests were staged to oppose the invite. In their relentless hatred for the man, the secularists conveniently forget that Modi is democratically elected prime minister of a secular country and such amateurish reactions only reflect the desperation of anti-Modi forces. It also shows that the so-called secular camp is running out of options to logically take on Modi and the BJP.

The above mentioned cases are just a few in a long list which prove that the concept of secularism in India has got thoroughly polluted and political parties following this corrupted version are only desperate for survival and believe in their own good. Though I was never a supporter of Left ideology, but as a student in Jawaharlal Nehru University in the 1990s, I appreciated the student wing of the Left parties for their intellectual ability, their concern for poor students and belief in national integration. I have read about and known their struggle for peasants, and their continuous fight for the rights of the working class.

Socialist parties following Lohia’s diktats had made peasant backward castes politically relevant in central and north India in '80s and '90s. But the emergence of BJP and Narendra Modi has now amply exposed their intellectual bankruptcy, and their myopic politics does not reflect any concern for governance, development and welfare measures. Instead, their meaningless opposition is entirely focused on defaming Modi by misusing and abusing the much maligned word called “secularism.”


Dr Devendra Kumar Dr Devendra Kumar

The writer is Director, Research and Development Initiative.

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