The hate speech by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Varun Feroze Gandhi (picture on left) has triggered a political controversy. Obviously it was not an unexpected remark from the BJP family members. What disturbs the nation most is that an heir of the Nehru-Gandhi family, who claims he is a Gandhian, attacked secularism, slammed Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence and made a mockery of the Indian Constitution by abusing, provoking and attacking a particular community while addressing an election rally at Pilibhit in Utter Pradesh on March 5.
Varun Gandhi is a great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was a champion of secularism and secular politics. Thanks to Nehru, right from the beginning India committed itself to secularism and the Constitution was drafted on secular lines.
Theoretically, secularism is all about the equal respect for all religions, cultures and languages, and non-interference of religion in state affairs and vice versa. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had a very clear idea of secularism. Once he said, "I am a Sanatani Hindu. I will give my life for my religion. But it is my personal matter. About India whose fashioning I am struggling for, that will be totally secular. Neither my religion will dictate the state nor will the state dictate my religion".
According to the Constitution of India, no one shall be discriminated against on the basis of caste, class, creed, gender and region. Similarly, all citizens of India, irrespective of their religion, caste or gender, have the right to vote and Articles 14 to 32 guarantee every citizen the same rights without any discrimination.
Communal forces have repeatedly made a mockery of the Constitution. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP, also known as the Sangh Parivar, not only reject secularism but provoke violence against the minorities. The Sangh Parivar proclaims the theory of one people, one nation, one religion, one language and one culture. It means there is no place for other religions, cultures and languages in India, which is completely against the secular fabric of the Constitution.
The BJP has been campaigning against the minorities for decades with the sole intention of capturing political power. L K Advani, when he was President of BJP, spearheaded the hate campaign against the Babri mosque, leading to its demolition in his presence. Consequently, the BJP came into the power and he became the Home Minister in the NDA government.
The youth brigades of the BJP understand it and have started enjoying communal politics. Unfortunately they are being caught with their immature political speeches. The question is why the young Gandhi wants to make his political debut with a huge controversy? Is he really against his great-grandfather’s secular ethos? Or has he learnt the BJP’s manipulated secularism? What does he want to achieve with it at the end of the day? One must recall that how Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was made a hero after his hate campaign against Muslims in Gujarat and how Atal Bihari Bajpayee, the then Prime Minister, backed him.
How can one forget that after the Kandhamal violence, BJP had threatened to withdraw its support to the Naveen Patnaik government if action is taken against activists of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal? Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa became the Sangh’s hero when he supported the inhuman activities of Bajrang Dal and Ram Sena in Karnataka. Arjun Munda, former Chief Minister of Jharkhand, gets regular promotions in the BJP for his anti-Christian campaign. The list goes on. Varun Gandhi made hate speeches only to become a hero in the BJP and emerge as candidature for prime ministership of the next generation in the BJP.
The BJP accommodated Varun Gandhi to counter the Congress’s youth icon Rahul Gandhi. When Varun Gandhi joined the BJP he was always beating the media headlines. After the general election 2004, he was completely forgotten by the party and he also failed to become the poster boy of the party. On the other side, the status of Rahul Gandhi is growing day by day. When he visits to Dalit villages, stays in Dalits’ houses and even carries a basket of mud in the NREGA scheme, he makes media headlines. Finally, he is the poster boy of the Congress and the prime ministerial candidate of the next generation. This disturbs Varun Gandhi the most and his party has left nothing for him except a Lok Sabha seat. Therefore the young Gandhi initiated a hate campaign, which the BJP was not aware of. He knows that giving hate speeches and polarizing the community in the name of religion makes one a hero in the BJP.
Varun Gandhi is not alone in provoking the people on communal lines. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, declared a few weeks ago that he will not say “Jai Shree Ram” unless the Ram temple is constructed at Ayodhya. Is it not communal provocation? Narendra Modi campaigned against Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh in 2002, soon after Lyngdoh denied the BJP a chance to exploit the situation in Gujarat for electoral gains. While addressing a Swaabhiman rally at Bodeli near Vadodara, he said, ‘‘Someone asked me, has Lyngdoh come from Italy? Is he a relation of Sonia Gandhi?’’’ He added, “I replied that they sometimes met in church, so there must be ties between them”. The BJP had declined to take action against Modi. The party does the same with Varun Gandhi, except that it asked him to apologize and he refused. It is clearly a hypocritical act of the BJP.
The BJP always ask for vote in the name of religion. Why does the Election Commission not derecognize the party and seize its symbol? Varun Gandhi has not beenarrested yet though a non-bailable criminal case has been registered against him. Why do constitutional bodies remain mute spectators when communal forces carry out communal campaigns? Since Independence several major communal riots have taken pace in India, including the anti-Sikh riot, Bhagalpur riots, Babri Mosque riot, Gujarat riots and the Kandhamal riot. The sad part is that the country is unable to make a law to protect its secular ethos. From all sides there are efforts to make a mockery of the Constitution has been made mockery from all corners. How long will we tolerate this kind of foolish politics?
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights activist and writer based at Ranchi, Jharkhand. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org