By Sagarneel Sinha
Vote bank politics has become a common practice for the political parties of the country — cutting across ideologies. In India, secularism means that everyone has the right to practice and follow his/her religious principles — unlike the European version which means separation between the state and the Church. Although, the reality is that today the idea of secularism has just become a piece of paper with the political parties exploiting it for appeasing their own vote banks. The recent comments of union minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar that the mindset of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has changed after its victory from Wayanad is really distasteful.
Wayanad is one of the 20 parliamentary constituencies of Kerala where the percentage of minorities, including both Muslims and Christians, stood at 59 per cent — with Muslims being the dominant community amounting 48 per cent. It is to be noted that in this year’s general election Rahul also contested from Wayanad, apart from testing political waters in his family burrow Amethi — where he lost to union minister Smriti Irani — but he managed to win from Wayanad. Even then Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally in Wardha, Maharashtra, had taken a jibe on Rahul indirectly by saying that “Hindu community is aware now. It is evident from the fact that one has to contest a seat where the minority is the majority”. This then courted a big controversy with Congress party attacking Modi for violating model code of conduct (MCC) and approaching Election Commission — which later gave a clean chit to the prime minister.
It’s a fact that BJP generally uses the majority Hindu sentiments to garner votes — and it has been doing for years and undoubtedly, this strategy presently is paying rich dividends to the saffron party. Obviously, Modi’s remark in Wardha was part of that strategy — but he used it cautiously by avoiding to mention Rahul Gandhi’s name. The rest of the work was then done by BJP supporters in the social media — who propagated that Rahul was contesting from a constituency having high Muslim demography. But Prakash Javadekar further went ahead by directly connecting Rahul’s “changed mindset” with that of Wayanad.
Although, facing criticism, Javadekar clarified that he has no problems with Wayanad — was just talking about Rahul’s mindset. However, the truth is already the message that the minister wanted is sent to the supporters of the BJP — who will propagate strongly Rahul as a “pro-Muslim” as much as possible in the social media. But why only blame BJP? The so-called “secular” parties including Congress, Communist and Socialist Janata parties have been doing the politics of minority appeasement, particularly Muslims, for years ignoring the majority Hindus and using them through only caste barriers — who were successfully lured by BJP by trying to unite them breaking the caste barriers using the Hindutva thread and providing them the required political platform.
And why to put all the blames on Prakash Javadekar? Wasn’t it Rahul Gandhi who should have commented cautiously on the sensitive issue of Kashmir? Actually, it was his careless statement that “there is violence and people are dying in Kashmir” which was used by Pakistan’s federal minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari in her letter to United Nation. Interesting fact is Pakistan’s Human Rights ministry is actually a propaganda tool to only complain against India mainly regarding Kashmir in the global forum — as it chooses to remain silent on persecution of Balochs, Pashtuns, Kashmiris of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Shia Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims, Kalash community, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists. Actually, Pakistan should be one of those last countries in this world talking about human rights violations.
With BJP upping the rant against Rahul and the party for providing ammunition to enemy Pakistan, Congress party aware of the serious consequences shot back the neighbouring country for maligning Rahul and asked to stay from the affairs of Kashmir, as it is an internal matter of India. The grand old party also advised Pakistan to look into the serious human rights violations happening in the territories it controls — Pakistan Occupied Kashmir–Gilgit–Hunza–Baltistan. And Rahul too later clarified saying, although he disagrees with Modi government regarding Kashmir, but it is an internal affair of India — and also blamed Pakistan for spreading terrorism in the valley.
However, by clarification, Rahul can’t escape the lens of criticism for his remarks to reporters that “people are dying in Kashmir” — as till now there are no reports like “people are dying” in the valley. However, there are reports of protests and injuries in the valley but reports that Rahul referred were nowhere to be found. Such careless and insensitive remarks from a high profile opposition leader of the country can harm national interests at a time when the international community is keenly following the developments of Kashmir. Rahul’s uncaring views only provided some ammunition that Pakistan was looking for after being almost completely isolated in the global forum on this issue. Plus, Rahul himself by airing such remarks is only denting more his already damaged political image. But seems that he doesn’t bother to pick up any lessons from all these unnecessary controversies.
The conclusion is — if the remarks of Rahul Gandhi were completely wrong — not even based on facts — and so are the comments of Prakash Javadekar on Rahul — which have communal colours. Such statements are unexpected from a union minister who also happens to be a senior leader of the ruling party — as it sends a wrong message to the party cadres and supporters. Reality is it will be better for politicians assuming high posts to use proper words for their remarks — so that these don’t go against the principles of communal harmony and national interests of the country. (IPA Service)