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Politics of intolerance

Politics of intolerance
Highlights

The land acquisition debate saw an unprecedented unity in the opposition ranks. But, now the politics of intolerance sees Team Modi on one side and several sections of civil society joining forces with opposition on the other side. The politics of intolerance debate is increasingly becoming intolerant.

The land acquisition debate saw an unprecedented unity in the opposition ranks. But, now the politics of intolerance sees Team Modi on one side and several sections of civil society joining forces with opposition on the other side. The politics of intolerance debate is increasingly becoming intolerant.

The constitutional head like President expressing concern and even Reserve Bank Governor finding a link between growing intolerance and its deleterious effects on economic development have added more spice to the debate. The BJP calling it a grand conspiracy against it is expected.

But, such a characterisation has only magnified the concern over rising intolerance. The killing of rationalists, lynching on the pretext of eating beef, irresponsible comments on dalits by highest functionaries in the ruling dispensation, calculated campaign to divide the society, moral and cultural policing by fringe groups, extreme manifestation of hate campaign are only a few illustrations of things happening on the ground.

Notwithstanding the verifiability of accusation that the ruling party and its conglomeration of ideological affiliates are responsible for such a climate of intolerance, increasing incidence of such incidents cannot be dismissed as a joke of the year as Venkaiah Naidu wants us to believe.

Then comes the moral right of the Congress to raise voices of dissent. Modi is perfectly correct on this count. The brutal killing of Sikhs in response to assassination of Indira Gandhi by fanatics who have no relation whatsoever with the victims, except that they have allegiance to the same religious faith, is a blot on the contemporary history of India.

Congress cannot escape from this travesty of justice of monumental proportion. Similarly, the internal emergency imposed on the nation by Congress is an absurd illustration of political intolerance. The cynical compromise it made with obscurantist forces on issues like Shah Bano case, all indicate the pusillanimity of a patriarchal political formation that claims right to the legacy of freedom struggle.

But, should India be a prisoner of such a narrow debate on larger issues of democracy and secularism. Should the people have to choose one or other form of political and social regimentation? Whether it is BJP style or Congress-patented actions, the civil society should have no hesitation in dismissing fundamentalism of all kinds and stifling of thought and belief by anyone in power.

The values of Constitution are sacrosanct. Rationality of thought is an eternal truth. Plurality is a civilisational value that never loses relevance in a multi-cultural society like India. Democracy is a cherished ideal for ever. The nation is above petty politics. The societal values should be the guiding spirit. Let’s curb all kinds of fissiparous tendencies .

The intolerance debate should not end with Bihar elections only to resurface on yet another election eve. The argumentative tradition of India should always see a live debate between those who firmly adhere to values of democracy, secularism and those who want to promote religious bigotry, thought policing and any other form of social strife that disturb peace and tranquility.

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