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Perils of phrases

20 Jan. 2018 10:59 PM IST

There is hardly any debate about communalism and casteism in India which have been accentuated by the kind of politics being played out time to time for the sake of reaping political benefits. In India communalism is ingrained as it forms part of the traditional culture of caste and racial prejudices. Caste and communal politics being part of the way of life at it may; becomes a natural course to run when politics is played out. In this, communal and caste politics is being played by almost all political parties but to varying degrees. If the Congress used to be accused of playing its own game of vote bank politics, the BJP has been dubbed as a communal party for its strategy of using hatred and divisions to spread fear and exploit it to its advantage. Other caste-based parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP), Shiv Sena (SS) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to name some are also no less guilty of causing divisions within society. Thousands have been killed, maimed, brutalised or uprooted in the name of communalism or casteism in India during the past several decades. India’s birth was bloodied with communal bloodbath that shook the new nation. It is estimated that at least 20 lakh people on both sides were killed in a massacre that even history chose not to record. Even after independence, communalism and casteism continued to claim several thousand lives in a madness that defied explanation. Whether it be the caste wars in the cow belt or communalism in north India and casteism also in some north Indian states, Indian politics has earned an unsavoury reputation. If thousands were killed during the anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984 after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, supposedly by Hindus a.k.a. Congress workers or sympathisers; a few thousand muslims were also killed during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. With gradual exposure to liberalism and modern lifestyles, today the issue of communalism is not as it was in the past. However, communalism continues to defy attempts to rid Indian society of it. Congress party has always prided itself as being secular and liberal. The opposite is said to be the case with the BJP. However there is also a difference with how communalism or casteism or racialism is being perceived today. While communalism is unabashedly embraced by the BJP as much as casteism by BSP or RJD etc or vote bank politics by Congress; most of the political parties today are finding it less profitable to do business with these evil practices. Rather today, it is found more expedient to accuse the other of practising these evils. Today BJP has become “pukka secular” as it calls the Congress “pseudo secular”. However the matter is about the changes that have taken place although there continues to be the “fringe elements” action on the ideology of Hindutva. When the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee(NPCC) slammed BJP for being a communal party and asking other state parties not to have any truck with it; the call hardly sent ripples. It is not that people have embraced BJP but it is about the overuse of ‘communalism’ as a card by a beleaguered Congress which has failed to deliver and reduced to its worst. The Congress cannot hope to revive on this card alone unless it’s leaders realise they have lost the plot.

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