by Qazi Arshad Ali, MLC and senior journalist, Bidar
India has one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The uniqueness of which is unity in diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect. These characteristics led to thriving of different religions and cultural practice in the Indian society. This is beautifully described in a couplet ‘Saare Jahaan Se Achcha’ by renowned Urdu poet, Sir Allama Iqbal. He also said, “All ancient civilizations like Rome, Egypt and Greece vanished from the world, but our nation’s name and fame still remains here. It is something in our culture that prevents it from being extinct, whereas there have been our enemies in every era.”
It is true that our nation is an epitome of ‘unity in diversity’ in the entire world. But this is also true that differences and clashes occur at times in such societies where people of different ideologies, social and cultural backgrounds reside. Though Indians believe in peace, brotherhood and tolerance, yet they are sensitive enough towards their religion, language, culture and traditions. That’s why controversies can be created here on the basis of religion and languages, and many politicians exploit the innocence and emotions of people for their political gains.
Religion has been a part of political gimmick in India even before the independence. Those who advocated partition of our country included leaders of both Hindus and Muslims. Politics in the name of religion increased instead of decreasing after independence in India. Allegations of exploiting minorities by creating a fear of majority have been leveled against the congress party, which ruled for 50 years in independent India. Similarly the Bharatiya Jann Sangh or Bhartiya Janata Party since its inception has been looking for such issues which generate hatred in the hearts of majority against minorities and subsequently organize them against congress or other secular parties. The anti-Muslim issues that the RSS has raised as a result of its action plan since its early era include ‘cow slaughter’ issue, which is an issue for clash in Indian society even after a passage of 63 years.
Work on the hidden agenda has been initiated in Karnataka since BJP assumed power in the state. Attacks on religious places of minorities, establishment of Sanskrit university, efforts of bringing change in educational syllabus; all these are a part of this hidden agenda. And now the new bill advocating a total ban on cattle slaughter is an important issue of this agenda, which has been a weapon of communal politics since the era of Jann Sangh. The BJP has failed to explain the necessity of a new legislation in terms of protection of cattle, since the 1964 act serving the purpose is in place. The leaders of BJP know very less about the approved bill in the legislature. The chief minister’s address on 19th March 2010 in the assembly speaks volume of the lack of information in this regard. He had said, ‘the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had given a verdict regarding Gujarat case that no food culture is a fundamental right’. Whereas the verdict of the Supreme Court issued on October 20, 2005 regarding Gujarat case did not discuss food culture at all. Instead its important point was about the ‘profession’ of beef merchants. The Supreme Court had observed that the legislation does not affect any profession, since they can sell the meat of other cattle like buffaloes, which are not included in the prohibited list there; hence the Gujarat act is not unconstitutional.
To what extent will the politics of ‘cow’ benefit the BJP or damage it, will only surface in future. But one thing was sure that the so called secular parties including the congress and the JD(S) have failed miserably in this matter what so ever. Especially the congress has been very much reserved in this regard. Demonstration of aggression by the opposition leader Mr. Siddramaiah and his two or three MLAs during the 19th March 2010 discussion, and submission of memorandum to the governor and the president and nothing more could be done by the congress which would have sent signals of support to minorities and Dalits. The senior leaders who were hell bent to expose the illegal mining issue in the entire state were satisfied with one or two press statements regarding the cow slaughter issue. Even the JD (S) could not do other than statements in newspapers. Especially on the day of discussion in the assembly only three MLAs of the JD (S) could speak and only for 20 minutes in the five hours long discussion. The statements of JD (S) Supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda were obvious in this regard, but they were in no way comparable to his strong outburst of sentiments concerning NICE issue!
Today if anyone could be lauded in this regard are those litterateurs, artists, intellectuals of the state who openly condemned and opposed the fascist bill of BJP. Today the situation is such that the BJP is making a ridicule of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Raj Bhavan to facilitate the approval of an anti-constitutional bill in the name of upholding constitutional values. There is no doubt in the fact that the future of this controversial bill will be as grim as of the TADA and POTA. This law will also be exploited. The BJP leadership has already started threatening those who raise their voices against this law. If this law is unfortunately implemented then the minorities, especially Muslims will have to be ready for a new series of oppression on them.