In the name of religion alone

After Chacko pointed out on Mutiny, I read around to find more about the P C Thomas case. Along with other things, Kerala High Court may have passed a judgment that Mr Thomas asked for votes in the name of religion. That point alone – mixing politics and religion – makes me raise a question.

In our democracy, there is bound to be a matrix of majorities and minorities. Its because so many lines run across our extremely diverse society. Some in the name of religion, prosperity, or linguistics. And some in the name of caste, regionalism or even nationalism. Now, with so many divisions running across our society, it is only natural that there will be political outfits aiming to represent these silos.

So now, who decides that appealing across one such line – religion – is wrong while blatant representation of a silo based on say linguistics, regionalism, or caste, or even prosperity is alright? If the logic here is that religion can easily be used to misguide illiterate or uninformed voters, then why does this logic not extend to other divisive lines as well?

  • Why is a political outfit allowed to carry a name like “Shiv Sena“? Isn’t that name a give away on what line of canvassing this political outfit will use for votes?
  • Why was it okay for one Lalu Yadav to stand on a dias and announce, “I shall rid Bihar of Bhu-Ra Ba-L” (translation from Hindi. Bhu = Bhumihar, Ra = Rajput, Ba = Brahamin, L = Lala or Kayastha)? How much more blatant can one be as far as casteism is concerned?
  • And why is it okay for a political party to claim that it represents only the most oppressed sections of Hindu society. Doesn’t Bahujan Samaj Party too use a divisive line to sell itself?

While I will leave it to you to find more such examples, just tell me this. If above three examples are fine in court’s and everyone’s minds, then what exactly is the problem with religion? Why do we think that tampering with religious lines is punitively dangerous while running chainsaws across some other lines is not?

I am not defending P C Thomas nor criticizing Shiv Sena, Lalu Yadav or BSP here. I only have a question, a simple one, and in my mind a valid one.

Disclaimer: I am not aware of the exact judgment in the P C Thomas case. Most reports say the disqualification was due to ‘corrupt poll practices’, some say he was accused of asking for votes in the name of religion. But regardless of specifics of this particular case, my question still stands.

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10 Responses

  1. Nice point. Also, if PC Thomas is guilty of asking votes on account of his religious, what excatly does the Indian Union Muslim Leauge (IUML) do to get votes? Isn’t promising more Haj tickets somehow related to religion? Isn’t the promise of five per cent reservation to just a perticular religious community illegal?

    As I mentioned in the Mutiny, if the court feels we are guilty, we will go with it. Let us be an example to anyone who is thinking of using religion in politics.

  2. Very nice post. Realistically speaking, only development issues should prevail and only performance should matter but in reality, there are vested interests which unfortunately predominate over the real issues. You are right. It should either be a free for all for all divisive tendencies or only good governance should matter.

  3. Totally agree.

    Now, why does this situation exist:
    – In India laws are not applied uniformly. And Uniformly there is an effort to not apply them that way.
    – Our Constitution/Laws is a very good example of a zillion IFs and BUTs. Just try reading some of it related to Reservations – ‘Notwithstanding what this article says, Nothing in this article, will prevent caste X from being promoted, irrespective of the rest of the article’. That’s roughly the way it goes…
    – There are protests to let Afzal go, Dhananjay is hanged after spending a full life term in jail, and chief minister’s wife calls a press-conference with the hangman! What the hell is that.
    – One Court can issue a warrant. Another court can issue a Anticipatory Bail… isn’t it strange?
    – Aamir Khan is pursued like a criminal, in a Chinkara case of Lagaan movie. Does anybody believe – this is a honest case or a superfluous mischievous one?

    Anyway…comments should be short :).

  4. Silkboard,

    You make valid points. I had made a similar argument when I was talking to someone about abolishing caste.

    Caste and religion are the two biggest dividing factor in India. I personally think that no party should have any official agenda based on either. It should be illegal. But I also know that it is a slippery slope and there is no way to distinguish between an association that is formed to uplift a certain section vs an association formed to use them as vote banks.

    As a side note The “Shiv” in Shiv Sena is not related to the god Shiva but is related to “Shivaji”. Regardless of what the name connotes they are a communal party.

  5. Chacko – please do what you promise. Really, now onwards, any trace of religious canvassing in any election, file a case. Someone needs to take this hypocrisy head on, and your group seems to have the resources, all the best!
    Hiren – Thanks. Exactly, That is the point. It should either be a free for all, or no political party should be allowed to encourage any existing divisions.
    PI – All such political activity starts with the motive of developing a solid vote-bank. It is like divide and rule all over again. To start with, such parties that focus on a group should not be allowed to run for Lok Sabha. Keep them confined to local elections (city/state?). Logic is – you cant expect these parties to further “national interests”. There is a PIL pending in SC on these lines, haven’t heard the conclusion of that.
    AKD – good you kept that short, because a list like that could be endless! The theme is – non uniform application of law. That is primarily because not everyone has the time and money to take every wrongdoing to the courts. Courts only act if you go to them with a case.

  6. thats simply because there was someone filed a case against PC Thomas. And there was strong evidence also against PC Thomas.

    So dont get confused with court order or mix all the things together.

    I dont think PC Thomas or who ever backed him are weak. Let’s see whether they buy any Supreme Court judge or not.

  7. Thank you Jagan. The case was filed by the guy who be defeated in the election. Both him and the guy who came third were claming we were ‘Hindutva’ supporters right till election night. Overnight we became Christian right wingers.

    As I mentioned in the Mutiny, there are faults that we made too. We were trying to fight back a propaganda that we were ‘RSS’ minded. We (some election agents) might have crossed the lines. I hope the SC puts things in perspective.

  8. The case has to file by the person who defeated. What you are thinking, PC Thomas himself files case against him?

    One more thing. The person now court declared as elected is PM Ismail. He is a Communist party of India (Marxist) leader.

    The only thing CPM supporting Congress in parliament is to avoid BJP coming to power. Even our good for nothing AK antony got a minister post. But CPM didn’t took any ministerial posts. That is good priciple. A leader of CPM asking people for vote to suport for hindtua is a just a Goebbelsian propaganda.

  9. Jagan – you are going a bit overboard here. Chacko said clearly enough the case was filed by the guy who lost. Go read his post, he knows it was PM Ismail.

    As for CPM not taking any central ministerial berths, it is cowardice more than ‘principles’. They want the best of both worlds – support (read arm-twist or blackmail) govt when you want, and play opposition for stuff you don’t like. That is true opportunistic politics. If CPM cared about the country etc, they should have joined the govt.

  10. There are times.. well, ok… I’ll amend that to “most of the time”.. I feel that what we have in our country isn’t exactly a democracy. Its more of this pastiche of mobocracy, a few dictatorships, a little anarchy here and there, and technocrats at the top who wouldn’t be able to carry the mob even if they came up with free food or something :-). We chug along in our little niches of excellence, somehow pulling the rest of the country along, screaming and protesting, into the next century.

    God, I turned this into a rant about “what’s wrong with the country”. I apologize for that :-).

    Back to the point. Not much that’s happening with Mr.Thomas is very fair, considering all the other examples that silkboard brought up. The BSP, the Shiv Sena… I mean, its past the stage of being shocked or angry.

    We can only bring stuff like this to light now… I don’t think we’ve reached the critical mass required to actually AFFECT things.

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