General Elections 2014: Enough of selective secularism

By Gayatri Sankar | Updated: Apr 17, 2014, 13:39 PM IST

India has been home to varied faiths, caste and communities since time immemorial. And the co-existence of these diverse colours substantiates the country’s secular character, something that doesn’t really need to be certified by power hungry politicians for whom the “secular” card has often acted as a catalyst to win vote banks.

The Zoroastrians, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and the Buddhists along with the Hindus are an integral part of India and shall always remain so. But the wind of secularism blown by a few “flag-bearers” of the ideology has stretched things preposterously out of proportion. And the damage that this whirlwind may cause will turn out to be irreparable.

A few personalities from the Indian film industry- Imtiaz Ali, Nandita Das, Hansal Mehta, Sanjay Chhel and several others recently filed a petition that stated, “The need of the hour is to protect our country`s secular foundation. Undoubtedly, corruption and governance are important issues, but we will have to vigilantly work out ways of holding our government accountable to that. However, one thing is clear: India`s secular character is not negotiable! Not now, not ever.”

The idea of signing a petition appealing to vote isn’t objectionable at all. It would have been better had they not focussed on secularism alone. They could have even named parties they think are of secular character. But by simply laying emphasis on secularism alone and thriving on the popular notion that a certain party is communal, they are trying to seek refuge behind their selective appeal that evades major issues like corruption, scams, price rise, illegal immigration, terrorism etc. The petitioners’ only contention is –secularism.

If that is what concerns them the most, then why were they tight-lipped when some of their own colleagues including heavyweights Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit chose to perform at the Saifai Mahotsav organised by the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, which was then trying to cope with the aftermaths of communal riots in Muzaffarnagar?

Why don’t they focus equally on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits? Aren’t they concerned about the illegal immigration of the Bangladeshis on Indian soil? Where were they when our soldiers were beheaded by hate-mongers across the border? Wouldn’t it have been better had this brigade come out with many more such petitions in the past to safeguard the interests of Indians at large?

If Bollywood’s “secular” cadre genuinely felt for humanity, then shouldn’t they have been vocal about the aforementioned issues? Their selective focus proves they aren’t “secular” enough in reality and that they suffer from partial amnesia.

If this group of people was so politically conscious and concerned about the fate of India, then why did it never object to Sanjay Dutt’s repeated parole? Isn’t that hypocrisy?

The Pathan trinity- Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh- are nothing short of demi-gods and are loved by their fans in India across all faiths and that is self explanatory.

The Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate has time and again been accused of being communal despite the fact that Muslims from his state have prospered manifold under his leadership. There hasn’t been a single case of communal disharmony since 2002 and he has since then been constitutionally elected not once but thrice! He has passed all sorts of litmus tests and yet is subjected to severe criticism by his strongest detractors.

Modi’s topi rejection episode made headlines, but the chadar (which had the holy Qalma written on it, gifted by the same Muslim leader) accepted by the Gujarat CM was never spoken about or highlighted. Why doesn’t truth come out as a whole?

Singing songs of fake secularism will do more harm than good to the country. Looking beyond and rising above the politics of topi and appeasement is the way forward to a strong and a progressive India.

Decide what you want - deliberate religious divide or holistic development.