There was an earthquake in 1934 in the Munger district of Bihar which again saw a religious riot in 1946. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India visited the place and addressed the people, he said, “I was here 12 years ago when the place was devastated by earthquake. I am standing here today to witness the same. But this time it not the nature responsible for the devastation. This time one group brought destruction to the other. When nature brings destruction, people help each other like brothers but when the same destruction is brought by people, one brother kills another. Human sacrificing humanity is difficult to witness.” This was Pandit Nehru.
Time has come to rewind and remember the times of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India. Three-quarter of Indians today doesn’t remember what Pandit Nehru had undergone to save this country from becoming a another Pakistan. It was not then the BJP or RSS who were striving for a Hindu India especially what Muslims did under the banner of a Muslim state in the form of Pakistan. Many of his close friends, associates and party workers were working relentlessly to convince him for a Hindu state.
But it has Nehru under the divine inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi who was committed to the cause of universal principles of Freedom, Justice, Equality and Secularism. It was under his leadership and dream of a unique republic India which otherwise is a country with diversity and differences, even within Hindus, that he managed to gain majority in Parliament to pass the world’s most comprehensive and unique Constitution.
Even after about 70 years of Independence, India is more divided today based on religion than it was even during partition in 1946-47. The religious sentiments and misunderstanding that are visible today was not there during 1947 even when there was massive movement of dividing the country based on religions. Disenfranchisement is quite common today, which was a crime till yesterday. It is extremely imperative to introspect what are the reasons behind this development.
After Nehru especially since 1980s, the society has separated secularism from justice and issues of inequality. Freedom, Justice, equality and secularism are the four sides of a unique coin called India.
On the other hand, the sectarian political franchises have been able to equate secularism with mere Muslim issues or affairs. In reality, Secularism is an issue of a third quarter of Hindus of India. A parliament full of Hindu political representatives by faith has chosen secularism constitutionally not for Muslims but for the interest of other backward and lower caste minorities of India. Even the mainstream media gradually started mixing the issue of justice, freedom, equality and secularism with citing examples of mere discreet and micro issues here-and-there.
It was a dire mistake for Muslims and some other upper castes to think the secular and socialist Republic that Pandit Nehru has gifted to India, will be eternal. Another reason why BJP has been able to unite the rest against Muslims and some other upper castes is also because Muslims and some other upper castes started thinking themselves secure and they didn’t find the need to reach out to others for exchange of views and restore a channel of formal inter-faith communications.
Moreover, the secular and progressive parties of India which are dominated by Yadavs and other castes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh recently created a grand alliance more known as “Rainbow Coalition.” But unfortunately, the Coalition highlighted and exposed Muslims and Muslim issues too much while slowly and silently distanced themselves from other lower castes and communities for which they stood before and were connected with.
Most of the progressive and secular parties of India started taking elections too easy and started planning and preparations after elections dates are announced. On the other hand, BJP and RSS have been able to replace Saffron flags with national flags and redefine nationalism that suits their religious-political agenda. They are working with those people whom they discriminated under the parameters of Untouchability before.
BJP may be defeated tomorrow in Uttar Pradesh and even in Gujarat. The progressive Indians should not celebrate victory in elections but should strife win in their ideas that Pandit Nehru or Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar fought for. Today mainstream issues of development and policy should be the issues of debate and discussion among intellectuals, media and general public, which otherwise are not.