Political Journal: How Not to Mix Religion and Politics

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Oracle, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
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    Bangalore, India
    By Jyoti Malhotra

    Until Saturday night, when one of India’s best-known yoga gurus escaped from a Delhi police crackdown in female clothing — setting off peals of laughter across the country — the ruling Congress-led government looked in danger of being caught in the catatonic thrall of saffron-clad godmen and women.

    Instead, we can now credit Baba Ramdev with helping the Congress party rediscover its political spine. His use of unparliamentary language against senior party leaders; his welcoming to the stage of Sadhvi Ritambhara, a Hindu nun whose venomous tirades against Muslims climaxed during the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992; and his accusation of “treachery” against the government’s interlocutors were more than the Congress party could bear, forcing it to reassert its authority, somewhat brutally, early Sunday morning.

    Still, Congress should be asking itself how it managed to get into this mess – spinning 180 degrees in a matter of days between welcoming the swami at New Delhi airport to tracking him down despite his feminine disguise (with bushy beard reportedly covered with cloth.) The answer is that they should have seen it coming, since the party has been willfully mixing religion with politics since even before Independence.

    In the aftermath of l’affaire Ramdev, Congress leaders have been seeking to transfer responsibility for last week’s wooing onto the government. Two senior party leaders who spoke on the condition of anonymity told me the Cabinet Committee for Political Affairs had decided that negotiations, not confrontation, was the need of the hour and that none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had requested his second-in-command, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, join three other ministers in welcoming Mr. Ramdev at Delhi airport.

    Digvijay Singh, a senior Congress leader, went public with the party’s unhappiness Thursday, telling NDTV that Pranab Mukherjee “staked virtually his entire career going to the airport.” Mr. Mukherjee, the Kolkata ‘Telegraph’ reported, accepted his mistake but claimed he was obeying the PM’s orders. Congress President Sonia Gandhi was so annoyed, she reportedly refused to let Kapil Sibal, one of the four ministers who received Ramdev, retell the sequence of events at a party meeting.

    If Congress decides to conduct a post mortem on the episode, it could go all the way back to Mahatma Gandhi to understand how and why religion — and later godmen – got mixed up in politics.

    The Mahatma was an unabashed supporter of the power of prayer, as he sought to erase the fault lines of caste oppression, establish Hindu-Muslim amity, and end the age of the Raj in India.

    At the other end of the spectrum stood his chosen disciple, Jawaharlal Nehru, who implored the Congress party to find an alternative to using faith as an instrument to score political points. Gandhi would chide Nehru’s limited understanding of the word “secularism,” pointing out that in a country like India which is the home of several religions, it could not mean the absence of worship.

    A lesser man would not have been to walk the fine line between politics and religion that Gandhi did. He understood the need to invert the power hierarchy, which is why his fast-unto-death method of protest became a weapon in the hands of the weak against the all-powerful British. But he warned that the fast could easily generate into blackmail and thereby lose its potency. He insisted it only be used as an instrument of last resort. You had to lay your body on the line, the Mahatma said, literally and figuratively.

    As the British prepared for the end of their rule in India, they used the Congress party’s usage of religious symbolism to further drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. To wit, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a pork-eating, alcohol-swilling, English-speaking early ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, broke away from the Congress party to become a card-carrying member of the Muslim League. It, in turn, used Gandhi’s overt religiosity as a button to push in its quest to partition India.

    After independence too, Congress leaders sought to inject religion into politics, often with catastrophic results.

    Indira Gandhi wooed the Sikh religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the early 80s, hoping it could use his influence to expand the Congress party’s following in Punjab. The move backfired and in the decade that followed, thousands of people were killed in the ethnic strife that pitted Hindu against Sikh. Mr. Bhindranwale was killed when the Indian army entered the holy Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple, in June 1984. Mrs. Gandhi fell to the bullets of her own Sikh security guards in October that year, and Pakistan’s intelligence agencies used the opportunity to fuel an insurgency within Punjab.

    Indira’s son and successor, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, put another wheel in motion. In 1949, in the brutal aftermath of the country’s partition, a magistrate ordered that locks be installed on a small Hindu temple inside the 15th century Babri mosque in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

    In 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was persuaded by his advisers in the Congress to allow the locks to the temple inside the mosque to be opened. They told him that this would gain him the blessings of India’s Hindu majority because of the widespread belief that the Hindu god Ram was born on the site. It would also help air the stink that continued to surround the Swedish Bofors gun scandal that tainted his premiership and neutralize the criticism the prime minister had recently earned from India’s liberal classes over the Shah Bano affair.

    Ms. Bano was a Muslim woman in her sixties who had sought reparation from the Supreme Court because her husband had thrown her out of the house after quickly divorcing her. Civil rights activists demanded that Shah Bano’s former husband give her a certain monthly maintenance, but orthodox Muslim groups countered the demand by pointing to the primacy of the Muslim personal law under which the husband had no compulsion to do so. Rajiv Gandhi capitulated in favor of the Muslim orthodoxy.

    But Mr. Gandhi’s move on the Babri masjid backfired, too, when the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party mounted a campaign to restore the Hindu god Ram to his rightful place, with the support of millions of devout Hindus. The destruction of the Babri mosque by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992 was a logical culmination of the political machinations of the previous decade, and has since become a key flashpoint of Muslim grievance in the world, let alone India.

    To put it bluntly, India’s political bloodstream has been contaminated by the injection of religion for decades, right from its birth in 1947 when communal rioting marred the celebration of the new country. So when the Congress party’s senior leadership rolled out the red carpet for Ramdev last week, in an apparent effort to split him from fellow anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare, they should have known better. The trauma of 1947 should have guided their hearts, the upheaval of 1992 their heads.

    Jyoti Malhotra is a freelance journalist based in New Delhi. She writes for India’s Business Standard daily and for Pakistan’s Express Tribune.

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  3. Dark_Prince

    Dark_Prince Regular Member

    Jan 31, 2010
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    True, however the maino clan led NAC is exactly doing this, under the provision of the new draft Bill against communal violence, it is discreetly assumed that violence is only conducted by Majority and there are no provision to punish minorities in case they kill, loot and plunder Hindus!! Moreover, it clearly lacks any yard stick to measure who is a minority and who is a majority, in the purview of the new law - Hindus in Minority dominated areas will go through same suffering that they went through in pakistan and are going through today, i.e. as orphans with no legal remorse as this law only and only protects interests of minorities, even in the event of a Hindu being killed this law cannot be enacted upon a minority and he can go scot free. Such inhumane law drafted by by a Congress led GOI which nullified all anti-terrorist laws, however they need a law to tame the now ever assertive Hindu for their respective minority masters. According to this law, even if a Hindu comments on deplorable condition of women in Muslim community can be deemed as a case of inciting violence and can be arrested, however a fanatic Pastor can ridicule and hold large public gathering spewing venom against Hindus, Hindu gods and goddesses and uttering insults will not be under the purview of this law; same goes for genocidal mullahs who may insight violence against Hindus and can go back to his slumber as a state guest, that too with honor of being secular!!

    Surprisingly, many civil society members and even congress mouth pieces such as Hindustan Times editorials have objected to such nefariously designed law which specifically targets Hindus even in the event of violence incited against them, such is our NAC dominated by the coterie and self-proclaimed civil society representatives (read: self-hating Hindus, NGOs, closet converts) who are propagating the agenda of Anti-Indian and Hindu-hating organizations.

    Why Maino dominated NAC has drafted this bill is no secret, but the point to be noted is the people who are part of NAC, the same NGO who have been spewing venom against the Majority with an-accounted and un-audited funding from you know from where; these very people have ignored the plight of Pandits in Kashmir or Hindus in NE, or any Hindu Killed in a terrorist attack, they even fail to condemn such acts because from within they support such acts of violence against innocent Hindus and derive get sadistic pleasure - elements in NAC belong of "Jhola Chap" Corrupt leftists, Islamic and Chirtian NGOs.

    NAC is an extra-constitutional authority answerable to none, not even to the parliament of India, however answerable to only and only Antonia. The most ridiculous part of the draft would be that a panel of 7 would investigate a Riot (mind you, only in case of minority casualties), this panel has to be a minority dominated panel i.e minimum 4 out 7 has to be minorities and we already know who will dominate such a panel - church sponsored stooges and islamic NGOs.

    We all know riots start with slightest of stiff or a rumor, and which community is more responsible for initiating Riots, even then in this country such treacherous people think (or they want us to believe) that such laws with fill the divide in the country, it only solves congresses short-term goals, this law will be a joke of the century......Hindus will get more militant and it will surely make BJP strong, as we can see whereever the media and NGOs have misreported riots to make them look anti-minority (as in the case of Kandhmahal where it was widely reported that minorities have been killed, in fact the GOIs own fact finding mission found otherwise and revealed Maoists being members of minorities funded by the church, hence this report was shoved under the carpet, imagine what will happen if this law is enacted, Majority (read: Hindus) even after suffering in the riots will be further punished even if they murmur; However I will not!!)
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  4. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

    Mar 5, 2011
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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The Congress has shown spine, but unless the act on the Black Money issue, that spine may get broken.

    They are a bunch of nitwits actually.

    They should have stopped Ramdev when he was setting up the Yoga Camp, since it was too elaborate for 3000 to 5000 people for which the permission was given.

    They have played into the hands of the Ramdev Camp and they will now have to suffer for being taken to being as stupid that they have been.

    They have burnt the candle from both ends.

    And if that lady who is critical dies, the Congress Party's image will be in the mud and the BJP and others will have a field day in bashing the Congress.

    The Stars seem not to be in favour of the Congress for a long time, starting from the CWG days.

    Now, if the go after both Anna and Ramdev, they will be up sh1t creek since, it will appear to be vindictive cussedness because if they have illegal funds that prop them up, the Govt should have acted long before they started their agitation. Or have they become tainted overnight?

    I am shocked that the Congress has lost its way to ride the crest!

    Arrogance is the cause!
  6. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

    May 4, 2009
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    New Delhi
    Arrogance is definitely the main cause for the current mess. The problem started when most of Congress Heavyweight leaders refused to join the Govt either in UPA I or UPA II. They had started believing that they would comfortably win the elections in 2014 and it would be a Congress govt. without any coalition partners and with the Gandhi family member as the PM.

    This disconnect between the party and the Govt. has lead to the current state of drift and lack of governance at the center for almost all of UPA II. The inability to contain inflation, the stagflation of the economy, both local as well as global, slew of corruption charges, all have lead to a vacuum, into which Anna Hazare and to a smaller extent Ramdev, have catapulted riding on the hopes and aspirations of the people, looking forward to seeing an end to this systematic corruption.

    Now the Congress has stepped onto an aggressive approach trying to portray this into a RSS/BJP ( read Hindu) political agitation. Their calculation has led them to an Aggressive/Hard Secularism ( as coined by Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express) which they belive will give them the minority vote.

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