Sunday, March 8, 2009

SECULAR BADGE GOING CHEAP: SECULARISM IS DEAD

When I wrote the post "How to get the secular badge, no questions asked!", even I could not have foreseen the complete mockery of so-called secularism that has unfolded suddenly and dramatically in Orissa. The BJP and the BJD have been allies in the state for 11 years and their alliance has been one of the most successful and stable political alliances anywhere in the country.

All was seemingly going well between the two parties till yesterday when the unexpected 'Breaking News' tickers on all channels started saying that the alliance had split. Within the hour, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was seen putting all doubts to rest about the fate of his discussions with BJP MP Chandan Mitra. The BJD and BJP jointly fought the Lok Sabha polls in 1998, 1999 and 2004 and the assembly elections of 2000 and 2004. In both assembly polls, the BJD contested 84 seats and BJP 63. In the general elections, the BJD contested 12 seats and BJP nine. This time the BJD wanted to contest 25 more Assembly seats, in lieu of which the BJP wanted two extra Lok Sabha seats. That was not acceptable to the the BJD, seemingly flying high on its assessment that the popularity of the CM was at an all-time high.

The moment the alliance broke, Naveen Patnaik turned magically secular. It was only a few months back that he was being compared to Narendra Modi for his role in the atrocities on Christians in Kandhamal. There was no newspaper, TV channel or blog that did not tear him apart for encouraging fundamentalist Hindu groups and doing nothing whatsoever to protect Christians in the state. No one was willing to give him even an inch for anything that he or his government did to bring deep-rooted societal tensions under control. He was condemned as the worst face of communalism that India had seen in the last few years.

There is no doubt that many ordinary and truly secular Indians were genuinely upset with what they were told by the media and a galaxy of 'secular' Indian politicians about Naveen Patnaik. How were they to know that in India's political landscape a politician's character is determined solely on the basis of who he is sleeping with and not what he is doing? When Kalyan Singh, the destroyer of the Babri Masjid wore the secular jacket by joining hands with Mulayam Yadav on almost the same grounds that Patnaik left the BJP, perhaps it was only me who wrote about the hypocrisy of this secular-communal divide, a purely political creation in a field where every single party picks candidates and asks for votes on the basis of religion, part of religion or region. But, most people were willing to forgive Kalyan Singh because a lot of water had flown down the Saryu in the last 18 years.

But this unbelievable turnaround of the secular brigade in less than 24 hours after the BJP-BJD alliance broke is something that should leave no sane Indian in any doubt that India's politicians are capable of doing anything in their pursuit of political power. It tells the nation that values, ideologies, ethics - pick a few more good words of your choice - are no more than words to be dishonestly used to convince the voter to put them back into power again.

Who were the first to give a clean chit to Naveen Patnaik for all the communalism that he displayed as the CM? Indian communists. "It is a positive development. It is clear that the allies of NDA are learning lessons about BJP's communal politics out of their own experience," said CPI leader D Raja to unshackle Patnaik from all his communal crimes. So the moment he left the BJP, Patnaik left behind the responsibility for all that he was being blamed for just a couple of months back as CM of the state.

This is not all. Within 24 hours, the Left has not only extended support to the Patnaik government but has also entered into a pre-poll alliance with the BJD f0r the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections! When asked about this unholy turnaround, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury had no qualms in saying that they had always maintained that if the BJD leaves the BJP, they would join hands with it.

So was all this furore against the government for doing nothing to contain atrocities against Christians nothing but a cheap political ploy to con the minorities into voting against the BJD, as long as it was sleeping with someone else? Henceforth, notice that nothing wrong will be found by the secular parties with Patnaik's handling of the violence against Christians. The blame will conveniently be shifted to the district administration. Christian community leaders will also be quietly asked to get real and the media will pretend as if nothing had ever happened.

This is the reality of Indian politics today. Everything goes. And till it does not go my way, I will do everything I can to incite emotive voters against my opponents by making them believe all the falsehoods I utter, along with a few truths, against them. And, the moment they hop over to my side, I will absolve them of all sins without any shame whatsoever.

Get ready folks for even bigger shocks. What can be bigger than this, you might ask. Don't be surprised if after the elections, the Left and other sworn-to-secularism pretenders welcome Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena into the vanguard of the secular brigade with a genuinely warm hug. They will do that, have no doubt, if the arithmetic demands it.

The secular badge is going really cheap now. For politicians, secularism is dead already, bar the static. Your and my vote is getting more and more worthless by the day.
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3. Covering up the mother of all corruption scandals