One of the most oft used phrases in contemporary Indian politics is secularism – as in “we are a secular front and they are a non-secular front”. The phrase secular was meant to differentiate between those parties that were pro-minorities and respected the secular constitution of our country and those that allegedly (according to the secular parties) did not!
The BJP has been very successfully demonized by the Congress, Left and other ‘secular’ parties in recent years – especially post Godhra – assisted in part by its own actions, conduct and unconvincing answers to questions that were posed to it. I actually think, going into these elections the BJP political space had been squeezed by forcing it into this non-secular, anti-minority space –made worse by the alleged oratory skills of Varun Gandhi.
However, recent events have put a spotlight on the ‘secular’ parties – the Congress and its friends – Hate speeches of Varun Gandhi have been matched by hate speeches by Cong ally Lalu Prasad, Andhra Pradesh Cong President Srinivas and Imran Kidwai! Also, Jarnail Singh and his shoe have woken us all from our slumber and reminded us of the crimes committed 25 years ago, in our Nations Capital against the Sikh community – at a time when there was no Television coverage and media as we know it today - a crime for which in Chidambaram’s words “not enough people have been punished”. There are many such political crimes Meerut, Bhagalpur in our history that remain unpunished and have unfortunately been consigned to the seemingly deep dustbins of our history by all our short memories.
These elections, I think all of us should be telling Political parties that espouse values of secularism to walk the talk and not get taken by the “we are good and they are bad” nonsense that gets tossed around and unfortunately blindly accepted by too many of us. The fact is all our Political parties have stained pasts and blood on their hands! These elections must force our political leaders to help break us from this past of political violence and crime! For the sake of the many innocent lives lost and traumatized, let Maya Kodnani, Jagdish Tytler and Sajan Kumar and their cohorts be tried fairly and fully – and then we can say as a nation we have come to terms at least a little with our past sins! Can we get there? And focus our debate/agenda be about the real challenges and questions that face us? Will we be able to ever do that?