Merchants of Pseudo-Secularism, Please Stop

Published: January 15, 2015 18:41 IST
(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

The past two weeks have been rather eventful for self-appointed merchants of pseudo-secularism. Asaduddin Owaisi, Yakub Qureshi and Digvijay Singh each have individually pronounced statements that can be branded from bizzare to outrageous.

The AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi believes that every child on the planet is born a Muslim first. On what basis may Mr Owaisi have arrived at this profound conclusion? Is not every child human first, before his indoctrination of identity through name and community? If, by Muslim, Asaduddin Owaisi believes that every child is born divine, then so are the children of all the Christians, Jews, Pharsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindu and all other spiritual communities in the world.

Perhaps Mr Owaisi wishes to convey to all global leaders that they share the same brotherhood at birth but have lost their way thereafter. However, were it not cloaked in such excessive extremism and self-righteousness, coming from where it does, it might have been a thought to consider.

Another bizarre pronouncement came from Yakub Qureshi, former MLA of the Bahujan Samaj Party. He announced a 51 crore or 10 million dollar reward for the terrorists who carried out the attack on Charlie Hebdo and murdered journalists and others, including a Muslim police officer. Evidently, through this outrageous comment, Mr Yakub Qureshi was mostly seeking media coverage to raise his personal TRPs.

Mr Qureshi's telematic bravado, however, dissipated rather rapidly when he discovered the very real prospects of arrest and of spending quality time with the ilk he sought to reward. Perhaps the best tribute from the Indian media to fellow journalists under attack by terrorists would be to relentlessly pursue this case till Mr Qureshi comes to appreciate the value of celebrating life and not the death of fellow human beings.

Senior Congress leader Mr Digvijay Singh remarked in a television interview that "terrorism in India started after 1991", attempting to link terrorism with the Ram Janam Bhoomi movement. While Mr Digvijay Singh is known for making outrageous statements (he did refer to Osama bin Ladin as "Osamaji"), this one also reveals a lapse of memory. How could Mr Singh forget about the assassinations of two Prime Ministers (Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajiv Gandhi)  that were directly linked to terrorism from two very different sources?

Each one of these statements appears to be a result of perceived competitive politics that jostles to claim ownership of a so-called Muslim vote bank. Such merchants of pseudo-secularism appear to be desperately seeking to project themselves as the authorised voices who can speak for the aspirations of Muslims in India.  This approach, however, ignores whether every Muslim in India is willing to see Mr Owaisi or Mr Qureshi or Mr Singh as their spokespersons.

In reality, Indians, irrespective of religion, caste or regional distinctions, are united in favour of a better, more responsive delivery of governance. There is an acceptance that only sincere efforts towards progress and development can take on the myraid challenges we face and can then help unleash the aspirations of a demographically-young India. While the voter is rapidly embracing this reality, when may the men in question wake up to it?

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