The word secularism has been debated for a long time in Indian political circles. It is not found in the original constitution of India enacted on January 26, 1950. It was inserted into the preamble of the constitution by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after the national emergency was imposed in the mid-1970s.
Let’s first understand what is secularism?
According to the Oxford dictionary, Secularism refers to the belief that religion should not be involved in the organization of society, education, etc. This means that religion has nothing to do with the state.
The meaning and context in which the word secularism is used in India have remained a matter of controversy. Sometimes, it has been used to silence the majority community. But many times, it has been used to justify government’s policy of appeasement in the garb of upholding the ideals of secularism.
It has been the systematic strategy of the entrenched Congress party and its ecosystem to pass pseudo-secularism as the true secularism.
However, the incumbent Prime Minister has tried to undo it by his policy of ‘development for all and appeasement of none’.
Let’s understand this by knowing the standpoint of two main political parties of India.
In all the above cases, one evident thing is that Congress Party has tried to appease a particular community whereas BJP has kept religion separate from the issues, truly the meaning of secularism. Yet, the Congress has portrayed BJP as communal and itself as ‘secular’, the biggest irony of India.
Not only the above three cases but the grand old party has also practiced pseudo-secularism to the extent that it had an impact on India’s international relations. It is a known fact that to pacify its domestic vote bank, Congress government allowed its domestic politics to impact the relations with Israel which has emerged as a trusted ally in the last 5 years.
Further, to prove their ‘secular’ credentials, some Indian politicians can go to any extent. The president of Congress party Sonia Gandhi had cried for the neutralised terrorists (suspected to be of Indian Mujahideen) as informed by her own party leader. And the sacrifice of a brave police inspector in that same Batla house encounter was insulted.
In fact, there was a time when the majority community was the target of the government. During the UPA government, The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence, Bill was drafted to target the majority community, dropped only after BJP’s resistance to it.
The intellectuals allied with the Congress party tried to gain a veto using the idea of pseudo-secularism to dictate what could be done and what couldn’t be done in the country. A project benefitting the majority community would most likely be vetoed by this class. The rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits back into their homeland didn’t happen as that would have disturbed the calculation of this veto-wielding class sitting in Lutyens Delhi.
But with mantras like “Development for All and Appeasement for None” and “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, Prime Minister Modi has buried this pseudo-secularist veto forever. He has restored the true spirit of secularism to the country.