Sabarimala to Ayodhya: Politics in the name of God
Hopefully, the voters will realise how easy it is for politicians to fool them in the name of religion and rise to vote for a progressive and powerful India.
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He looked at me and said something in Malayalam that I didn't understand. A young, tall man with a stubble. As he tied the hem of his lungi up above his knees, he spoke hurriedly, gesticulating wildly. The only word I could discern as he spoke to my colleague, Shalini, while pointing in my direction was the word — ‘Muslim’. He used it repetitively as some more men on bikes gathered around our camera.
This was just a few hours after we were attacked by a mob in Nilakkal on our way to Sabarimala. The last thing we wanted was a repeat of that. It was troubling to learn that I could be facing the same hostility even 60 km away from the spot. It worried me no end how anger and hatred in the name of religion spread so fast even in a 'progressive' state like Kerala. I realised that the news of the attack had spread like wildfire as visuals were flashed on local channels.
Sabarimala is a classic example of a historic judgment dishonoured in the name of religious sentiments. (Credit: India Today)
While local leaders continued to add fuel to fire, social media stoked widespread anger.
At the fuel station, anyone throwing a glance at me made me completely uneasy. Keeping our safety in mind, we quickly left the place.
Sabarimala is a classic example of a historic judgment dishonoured in the name of religious sentiments and cashed in on by political parties to serve their own interests. The violent protests were carried out in the name of 'preserving traditions and religious freedom'.
For the BJP struggling to gain a foothold in Kerala, Sabarimala proved to be that perfect excuse — pitting the 'custodians of faith' against the ruling Left front government.
That clearly explains the silence of the BJP, which first remained mum on the SC verdict on Sabarimala lifting the ban on the entry of women in the age group of 10-50 years to the Lord Ayyappa shrine, but later backed the lawless protesters.
The Kerala government, on its part, dragged its feet in enforcing the rule of law and allowed a free run to the rogue elements.
Weeks later, BJP President Amit Shah, well-calculating the gains, openly supported the protesters issuing a veiled warning to women devotees as well as the Left front government not to ‘play with fire’.
Weeks after the Sabarimala verdict, we have yet another Supreme Court decision being subjected to scrutiny.
There is no politics without religion in India. (Credit: India Today)
Ironically, with the top court adjourning the Ayodhya land dispute until January 2019, the 'political agenda' for the coming election season has been set.
A normally calm Mahant Dharam Das, clad in saffron robes, lashed out at the top court after the three-minute hearing on Monday. Oblivious of the legal implications, or maybe not, he thundered: "They think they are masters and not servants of the government. They are mistaken. Why couldn’t they hear all of us out?"
Yet again we have the Ram Mandir pot boiler ready to be served to the voters of the country before the General elections. The Ayodhya dispute is been woven into a political drama that has rival parties playing to the script. So you have the media savvy motor mouth leaders playing their parts, delivering their well-rehearsed melodramatic dialogues as if on que.
The self-proclaimed spokespersons of the Hindus like BJP's Giriraj Singh and politically irrelevant netas like Vinay Katiyar are readily giving timely soundbites using words like ‘Hinduon ke sabra ka bandh toot raha hai’ and ‘Kab tak sabra karein Ram-Bhakt?’.
In this cacophony, the ordinance ‘Brahmastra’ was shot by the RSS Pramukh. Addressing a gathering in his last Dussehra speech before the General elections, Mohan Bhagwat had no ‘verbal astra’ left to prove the Right wing organisation's loyalty to the Lord Rama so he fired the ultimate weapon.
Then the Owaisi’s of the play followed suit , throwing their hat in the ring , hurling challenges using the “the 56 inch chest’ jibe and chanting the Ordinance Raga.
The AIMIM chief dared the BJP government to issue an ordinance on Ayodhya.
In the middle of this political circus, a forever-confused Congress is scurrying for cover. The Congress leaders look as confused as a sloppy trapeze artist in a circus struggling to find a balance between a “Janeu dhari Shiv Bhakt’ and the 'secular Indian' image.
It's true that there is no politics without religion in India. Even Mahatma Gandhi believed that politics without religion had little meaning, but Gandhi's religion was ahimsa and not religious dogmas that create communal divide.
Hopefully, the voters will soon realise how easy it is for politicians to fool them in the name of religion and rise to vote for a progressive and powerful India.