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Vijay Darda :Had the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi imagined the kind of politics in independent India as we are seeing these days? Would Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Babasaheb Ambedkar and other top leaders ever have thought that Indian politics will get mired in caste and religion over time and pollute the entire society? Surely they would not have imagined it. They would have envisaged an India with humanity as the largest religion, and caste and religion as purely personal affair not influencing the society at all. But unfortunately, this is what is happening today. Now the seeds of hatred against each other are being sown in such a way that future looks very scary.
I am from a political family myself. For 18 years, I have been part of the parliamentary politics but for the situation that is prevailing today, I blame the political parties and their leaders directly. I am also connected to the newspaper and assess the situation closely. I have felt this and you must have also felt that as soon as the elections come, the atmosphere hots up. Things start with development and do not know when they boil down to caste and religion. There is no discussion as to the background of the candidates and what are their plans for development? What has the sitting public representative done to bring about development? There is absolutely no discussion! The discussion invariably revolves around the person’s party affiliation, which religion he belongs to and what is his caste. Even the political parties give tickets to those who have the power to garner votes in the name of caste and religion or who have the power to attract votes in their favour by virtue of their money power. Have you seen any social worker, for whom all the castes and religions are one, getting the ticket? If such a person gets a ticket then he can not win because polarisation has become the biggest weapon in politics.
Unfortunately, our politicians never think that this polarisation is affecting the society! Although people may not accept it openly, the present day reality is that our society is already being divided more on the basis of caste and religion. Leaders who won freedom for India must have hoped that caste system will weaken over time and religious fanaticism will end, but the prevailing politics itself has defied the balance. Today, caste is dominating the politics and religious fanaticism is in its prime.
I do not blame anyone for this. In my view, every political party is responsible for it. The latest example being the Assembly elections in Gujarat where the first phase of voting will be held later this week. Our colleagues from the Lokmat Media visited Gujarat and found that religious fanaticism has overshadowed the all-important issue of development. In Gujarat, such messages are circulating on the social media that I can not even mention them because they are but spreading hatred. Are the politicians not aware that such messages are being circulated? Everyone knows but there is no attempt to stop it. Rather, the politicians are slinging mud at each other no holds barred!
That Indian politics is getting so tainted is worrisome for the country. Politicians will keep coming and going, parties will come and go but democracy will weaken. Leaders must understand that those who foment hatred at the time of elections will tarnish the image of the country in the longer run. Politicians must understand that this country has never been of any one class or one religion or one caste nor will it ever be. All should understand one thing for sure that whosoever is there in this country, be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist or Christian, it is their country. The number can be less or more but they have equal rights. Nobody can be underestimated. Actually this diversity is our power. The society here has always been inspired by the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Our society will develop through love and affection for each other and coexistence. If our society is weak then the country will weaken. I just want to tell the politicians, please do not turn India into an arena of hatred! Secularism is our greatest strength. This strength should not diminish. And preservation of our greatest strength -- secularism -- is the biggest challenge before the new generation.
Before I conclude
The latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is extremely alarming. There is a shameful increase of 12.4% in rape incidents in the country. The three big states of the country -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra -- are on the top three positions. I do not understand what has happened to our society? Why are the incidents of rape on the rise? Are our values on the wane? This is a serious issue. While the laws need to be made even more stringent, the society too needs to play a proactive role in instilling values among the people.