‘Anti-Hindu’ charge against Congress reflects on accusers, not accused

The criticism of Congress as being against Hindus reflects the sectarian agenda of those propagating it rather that the nature of Congress, which despite all flaws, has tried to protect secular values

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Ram Puniyani

Currently the propaganda from the BJP combine is that Congress is an 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 and Congress have defamed the Hindu religion and should apologise for that.

In the ongoing campaign for the Karnataka assembly elections, BJP has taken out a yatra against the so-called ‘anti Hindu policies’ of Congress. The propaganda reached such a crescendo that even Sonia Gandhi, the former Congress President, had to say that Congress is perceived as a party for Muslims!

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 this? In fact, there has been a decline in the conditions of farmers, workers, Dalits and a rise in atrocities against Hindu women. The claim that these emotive issues are for the benefit of Hindus is nothing but propaganda which has led to polarisation, an increase in hatred among communities and a rise in violence. And the major victims of these policies are not just the Muslims, but also Hindus in ever increasing numbers.

What about the charge of Congress being ‘anti-Hindu’? 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 of his crime in front of a magistrate, which was not under duress, and his confession was legally valid. Most of the investigations pointed fingers at Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Purohit et al.

During the last four years of BJP rule, the investigations into the case by the agencies ensured that all of them would be exonerated and the blame of wrong investigation was slapped on the Maharashtra ATS. While Karkare was proceeding with the investigations, Modi and Thackeray had called him anti-Hindu. Feeling the brunt of the pressure on him, Karkare sought the advice of his senior, Julio Ribeiro, who advised him to work with honesty, ignoring the pressures.

While the anti-Hindu image of Congress has been constructed around such issues, the pro-Muslim image has been constructed in last few decades, more so after the reversal of Shah Bano judgement by the Congress government. It was a flawed decision and it was seen as yielding to the regressive elements within the Muslim community. Muslims did not benefit from it.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s apparent statement that ‘Muslims have first claim on national resources’, is yet another statement mentioned to assert that Congress is pro-Muslim. What Singh had actually said was that “minorities, particularly Muslims, must have first claim on resources”. He had said this 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 had fallen and they were also the victims of communal violence, and that the only place they are over represented is in the jails!

As such, attempts 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, the nationalism that the Indian National Congress came up with had elements of people from all religions. Badruddin Tyabji presided over the Congress session in 1887. Congress also had presidents who were Parsi, Christian and Hindu. Congress faced criticism from Muslim communalists (Sir Syed for example), as being a Hindu party, while Hindu communalists (like Lalchand of Punjab Hindu Sabha) alleged that Congress is appeasing Muslims at the cost of Hindu interests. All through Congress had to face criticism from these elements, as its focus was ‘Indian Nationalism’; it was practicing secularism.

The criticism of Muslim communalists, the Muslim League, culminated in the formation of Pakistan. The criticism of the Hindu communalists, Hindu Mahasabha/RSS, was that Gandhi was appeasing Muslims. They stated that it was due to Gandhi that the Muslims raised their heads and that was what led to the formation of Pakistan. 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, he said that Gandhi is responsible for formation of Pakistan, he had compromised the Hindu interests and been pro-Muslim!

The current criticism of the Congress that it is against Hindu interests is nothing but a continuation of these arguments, which began with Hindu communalists in 1880s, through the the articulations of the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS and Godse.

Walking the secular talk is becoming more difficult by the day. Gandhi was killed for this and Nehru is being made the subject of vilification and calumny for the same. The Muslim communalists rejoiced at formation of Pakistan, where development and amity is missing. With Congress-Gandhi-Nehru, India could make a small journey towards fraternity and progress.

The criticism of Congress as being against Hindus reflects 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!

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