Secular is a word that has fallen off its sense and often finds itself used at instances where it isn’t meant. And thus, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes the graveyard remark in Fatehpur, many hail it as a secular statement.
The statement may sound implying no bias to many in the approach by politicians, but definitely the appeal wasn’t so. Here is where the meaning of secularism goes amiss. I would have believed it be a secular statement if the malice of garnering the support of targeted religious groups wasn’t inflicted upon it. The Prime Minister never gave such a statement during any rally in any other state. The counter view might say that it is Uttar Pradesh where it is needed the most, to which the response can be simple—yes it is UP where Bhartiya Janata Party needs to play the communal card and win over. The statement definitely doesn’t appeal equally to all the religions. Bhartiya Janata Party has a repute, reliance and relation associated with RSS that it cannot refute. The implication highlighting Samajwadi Party’s inclination towards Muslims (considering a group as a vote bank) could have been delivered better if secularism was the concern.
However, he must be lauded for raising the bar of electoral debate which his counter-parts have not been able to touch so far. SP and BSP are still playing the same game in Uttar Pradesh, on the same cards. In some way or to some people, he justified his stand by adding, “Dalits say they are not getting their rights, OBCs are getting everything. OBCs say the government only gives to the Yadavs. Yadavs say only those associated with the ‘family’ are getting their rights, and the rest goes to Muslims.”
Secularism has been subverted to minority-majority sentiment. The Indian polity runs by harping on these insecurities of different communities. If this fissure continues, then members of these communities will slip into the darkness created by these parties.
The question arises that why the forefathers who constituted the Constitution not included ‘secular’ in the Indian Preamble. Were they not aware of the Indian plurality or did they not feel the need even after witnessing the shady and traumatizing separation with Pakistan that in the forthcoming history, India will feel the urgent need for it? Secular was added to imply that the government of India is insulated from any religious bias, its functioning unbiased of any religion. Of late, this became a synonym for equality, a completely different connotation.
Every time a party promised better facilities for the deprived on basis of religion and caste, that very moment the secular in them died—be it SP in banking on Muslim voter bank, Congress being blamed of doing the politics of castes and BJP doing so through comments like shamshan. It is because of people being turned to vote banks based on their religious identities that action hasn’t been actually done to uplift them. Because if so is done in actuality than in political rallies and speeches, there won’t be anything for the next elections.