Currently there is propaganda from BJP combine that Congress is anti-Hindu party. On every conceivable occasion it states that Congress is insulting Hinduism. In the wake of the verdict of Mecca Masjid blast cases, as the accused got released, BJP spokespersons went hammer and tongs saying that Rahul Gandhi-Congress have defamed Hindu religion, they should apologize for that. In the ongoing campaign for Karnataka elections, BJP has taken out a Yatra against so called ‘anti Hindu policies’ of Congress. The propaganda has gone to such an extent that even Sonia Gandhi, the ex-Congress President, had to say that Congress is perceived as a party for Muslims!
How should we understand the policies of a party for any religious community? BJP is propagating that it is a party which is taking care of Hindu interests. Is it true? It has taken up issues like Ram Temple, Holy cow, article 370, love jihad etc. Have Hindus at large benefitted from it? We see that economic slide in the conditions of farmers, workers, dalits and increasing atrocities against Hindu women. The claim that these emotive issues are for the benefit of Hindus is a pure make believe propaganda which has led to polarization, increased hate and increase in the acts of violence. The major victim of these policies is not only the Muslims but Hindus in large numbers.
What about Congress being Anti Hindu, against Hinduism? Let’s take the case of Mecca masjid blast. The major part of investigation was initially done by Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the 26/11 act of terror on Mumbai. Swami Aseemanand, the accused, himself had confessed to his crime in front of a magistrate, which was not under duress, and his confession was legally valid. Most of the investigations pointed fingers to Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya, Lt. Col Purohit et al. During last four years of BJP rule, the case has been so presented by agencies as to exonerate them all and put the blame of wrong investigation on the part of Maharashtra ATS. While Karkare was proceeding with the investigations, Modi and Thackeray had called him anti-Hindu. Karkare felt so much pressured by these intimidations that he sought the advice of his distinguished elder, Julio Rebeiro, who advised him to carry on with his honest work, ignoring the pressures.
While anti Hindu image of Congress has been constructed around such issues, its pro Muslim image has been constructed in last few decades more so after the reversal of Shah Bano issue by Congress government, which apparently was a flawed decision. Still it was just yielding to retrograde elements within Muslim community. Muslim community as a whole did not benefit from it. Dr. Manmohan Singh’s statement ‘Muslims have a first claim on national resources’, is yet another statement flouted to assert that Congress is pro Muslim. What is hidden from the public view is that this statement came in the wake of the Sachar Committee Report. This report had debunked the claim that Muslims have been appeased, it concluded that the economic condition of Muslims has got a big slide back while they are also the victims of communal violence, and that the only place they are over represented is the jails!
As such attempt to walk on the path of secularism in our country, which has suffered the impact of ‘divide and rule’ policy of British is not easy. With the rising Indian consciousness, Indian Nationalism, Indian National Congress came up with people from all religions. Badruddin Tybaji presided over the Congress session in 1887. It also had Presidents who were Parsi, Christian, and Hindu notwithstanding. This time around Congress faced criticism from Muslim communalists (Sir Syed for example), as being a Hindu Party, while Hindu communalists (like Lala Lalchand) dubbed that Congress is appeasing Muslims at the cost of Hindu interests. All through Congress had to face criticism from these elements, as it had the primary focus on Indian Nationalism; it was practicing secularism with some slips here and there.
The criticism of Muslim communalists, Muslim League culminated in the formation of Pakistan. Hindu communalist, Hindu Mahasabha RSS criticism was that Gandhi is appeasing Muslims, it is due to Gandhi that Muslims have raised their head, due to which Pakistan was formed. The sharpest articulation of this came in the actions of Nathuram Godse, who was a trained RSS Pracharak and also became the Secretary of Pune Branch of Hindu Mahasabha in 1936. In his statement in the Court (‘May it please your honour’), Godse said Gandhi was responsible for formation of Pakistan, compromising the Hindu interests and being pro-Muslim!
The present criticism of Congress, it being called a Muslim party, it being against Hindu interests seems to be a continuation of the arguments, which began with Hindu communalists in 1880s, via the articulations of Hindu Mahasabha-RSS-Godse, which have become intensified during last couple of decades. Surely the condition of Muslims has worsened during last several decades and during last four years, its status is having a ‘free fall’, while those in power, making these accusations, anti-Congress propaganda are having a field day with emotive issues in which Hindus are as much the losers as the other sections of society are.
Walking the secular talk is becoming more difficult by the day. Gandhi was killed for this and his disciple Nehru is being the subject of vilification and calumny for the same. The Muslim communalists rejoiced formation of Pakistan, where development and amity is missing. With Congress-Gandhi Nehru we could make a small journey towards fraternity and progress. The criticism of Congress as being Muslim party, as being against Hindus, reflects more about the sectarian agenda of those propagating it rather that the nature of Congress, which despite all the flaws has been trying to protect secular values, despite massive limitations!(Published on 14th May 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 20)