By M.J. Aslam
The word “secular” wasn’t there in the original Constitution of India. It was inserted in its Preamble in 1976 by 42th Constitutional Amendment during Mrs. Gandhi’ prime-ministership. Why it wasn’t there originally isn’t precisely recorded but the discussion following will answer the question distinctly, though it has been recently vaguely answered by an Indian historian, namely, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, that as long as “justice & equality” were enshrined in the Constitutional provisions, there was no need felt by Nehru & Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to include it in the Constitution of India. Without commenting upon the facts on the ground about the implementation of the majestic ideals of “justice & equality” in respect of the religious & ethnic minorities especially Indian Muslims by the State apparatus since 1947, which is documented & recorded, it is pertinent to refer to the views of commonly-regarded “non-communal” Hindu leaders of Congress in Free India. In this, I think , it would be advisable to recall to our minds the recent interview of S. Naqvi taken by Karan Thapur on TV channel India Today about his book: Being the other: Muslim in India, on 2nd July 2016, that would surely remove many a confusing cobwebs from the minds of many regarding INC’ secular credentials. To mention , S. Naqvi, noted journalist & author, who has deep moorings in INC has in his said book exposed, with the help of historical events & quote-un-quotes, the façade of Congress leaders’ self-deceptive idea of secularism for the reasons given in the said interview. He, to a question, thus, said: “When first Hindu-Muslim riots took place in Mehrauli, New Delhi, immediately following partition in which Muslim civilians were killed by police & rioters, making Nehru, Gandhiji & Lord Mountbatten who were around very upset , Gandhiji asked Sardar Patel about what was going on. The “communal” & “prejudicial” Sardar Patel, the first Dy PM & HM of India, replied to Gandhiji in these words: “you are giving Hindus (not Indians, emphasis added by Naqvi) bad name… Muslims were well-armed….. ”. To another question in the same interview, S. Naqvi said: “ Partition was seamlessly glided from British Raj to HINDU Raj …the secular argument that was advanced was a self-delusion , deception, to please Muslims & keep KASHMIR…it was an attempt to fool them & it fooled them in the end…Nehru wasn’t secular at heart…he was Brahman (Hindu) at heart…”. In the same interview, S. Naqvi then quotes Shashtri, second PM of Free India, who immediately, after 1965 Indo-Pak War, said: “Civil & military defenses of India should be taken up by RSS”. Congressman, Mani Shankar Aiyyar says that “pro-Hindu mindset” of PV Narsimha Rao, ex-Congress-PM of India, led to demolition of Babri Masjid. (The Economic Times, 27-06-2016; see also P Chidambaram’s admission: Babri Masjid demolition a “fatal error”).
In the Indian freedom struggle, both Muslims & Hindus, fought together for it against the British. It wasn’t a war between Hindus & Muslims. But the below appearing quote of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar who is comparatively regarded as a soft, liberal & non-communal politician and is also architect of Indian constitution, clearly reveals in his “pro-Hindu tone” for & against whom India had won her freedom or independence. On 25th November 1949, he said in the Constituent Assembly: “What would happen to her (India’) independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people. In the invasion of Sind by Mahommed-Bin-Kasim, the military commanders of King Dahar accepted bribes from the agents of Mahommed-Bin-Kasim and refused to fight on the side of their King. It was Jaichand who invited Mahommed Ghori to invade India and fight against Prithvi Raj and promised him to help of himself and the Solanki Kings. When shivaji was fighting for the liberation of Hindus, the other Maratha noblemen and the Rajput kings were fighting the battle on the side of Moghul Emperors. When the British were trying to destroy the Sikh Rulers, Gulab Singh, their principal commander, sat silent and did not help to save the Sikh kingdom.” (Cited with approval in Satyapal Anand v. Union of India, (1997) 2 MPLJ 459). A religious bias & prejudice is visibly writ large from this quote of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It wasn’t British but the Muslims who were being targeted in this speech of his. From the aforesaid, it becomes unambiguously clear what was shown to the Muslims & Kashmiris by Secular leaders of Free India was in fact farce & far-away from the truth. The leaders of Congress might not have been true or loyal to their secularistic ideology propagated for their vested political design as is apparent from their own words & deeds as by core they held their religious ideology very close to their political-hearts. But in JK, SMA who was disillusioned with “religious politics” of MC had “honestly” dipped himself from top to toe in the barrel of Indian Secularism that was but artfully used to get him lassoed like a toothless, shapeless, tiger. So, on 5th November 1949 while, pleading for affirmation of ilhaak (accession with India), before 73 members of JK Constituent Assembly, overwhelming majority of whom was Muslims, in his “famous” inaugural speech Sheikh said: “the only powerful argument which can be advanced in favour of accession with Pakistan is that it is a Muslim State and Jammu & Kashmir is having a big majority of Muslim population. The appeal to religion constitutes a sentimental and wrong approach to the question. Sentiment has its own place in life but often it leads to irrational action” .
In the beginning we stated that till 1976 Secularism was not formally coined in the Indian Constitution. Its non-inclusion therein has been the main argument by Hindu Right Wing Groups, amalgamated into political face of BJP, for its deletion, & inclusion of Hindutva or Hinduness or Hindu Rashtra in its place. For judiciary in India, it –Hindutva– may be just “a way of life” of sub-continent people without religious colours of Hinduism. But in actual practice, this political-amalgamation is openly propagating, professing & working on this as a pan-Hindu polity. For them, secularism has been incorporated in the Indian Constitution for vote-bank politics of Muslims by Congress, and the true or “positive secularism” is what they preach—Hindu religious rituals & practices. Hardly there will be any branch of Indian State, its social & political life, where this “real secularism” of Hindu Rashtra isn’t forcefully & systematically advanced, emphasised & practiced, everywhere & every time, in India. (Latest ref India is Hindu Rashtra, GK dated 14-11-2016). There wasn’t, there can’t be, thus, any separation between Indian State & Hinduness in a hyper-charged Hindu-majoritarian country, & it is globally admitted that democracy is basically “tyranny of the majority” that secures its own interests at the cost of minority-interests.
So, time has proven it more than once that due to short-sightedness & historical blunders, those in overwhelming majority in a place on the earth “foolishly & treacherously” allow themselves to become subjugated to the foreign majoritarian rule: the worry that was disturbing “well known liberal secularist” like Dr. B. R. Ambedkar also deeply inside, as noticed above.