What does it take to prove the ‘secular credentials’ of a certain individual. Is secularism an absolute or a relative term? Is secularism decided by thoughts and actions, or is it certified by an overarching authority?
In the Indian political context at least, in both cases, the latter appears to be the case.
Most recently, the definition of secularism — subject to much revision — is defined by one man: Narendra Modi. Already, having identified him as the greatest threat to their fortress, the UPA has been doing all it can to supress the tidal wave of Modi coming at them, albeit with little success. BJP leaders have aptly termed this fear as ‘Modiphobia’.
The ruling party, devoid of any secular credentials itself, has been gleefully handing out certificates of secularism to those it deems fit. Especially to those who try and step up to Modi.
No sooner did Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announce his party’s breakaway from the NDA, a certificate was hastily prepared by the PMO for the country’s newest secular leader. Instant headlines were made, and talks of a prospective partnership between ‘like-minded secular parties’ were aplenty. Once branded secular by the Congress, one is absolved of all his sins, and more importantly, is free to do business with the UPA.
But really — what gives the Congress any credibility to decide whether a leader/party is secular or communal? This question remains, pitifully, unanswered. Plainly and simply, the Congress sees itself as the self-proclaimed voice of secularism and has tried to posit itself as the ultimate authority. Its ‘impeccable’ reputation cannot possibly be tarnished, even after having overseen most of the the country’s deadliest riots since independence.
Secularism was one of the founding principles of the Indian state, but it has been shamefully and annoyingly exploited, politicised and misconstrued by the Congress; so much so that it has become a disease — secularosis.