ThePrint asks experts:
Should Rahul Gandhi’s religion matter in politics?
India is a secular state and must not mix politics with religion. Religion should be confined to the private space. But India is a semi-feudal society as well. It is this fundamental contradiction that is the cause for India’s flawed democratisation, which leaves space for religious mobilisation by opportunist political parties.
Ideally, Rahul Gandhi’s religion should not matter. But BJP and its affiliates have cleverly used religion for consolidation of their Hindu vote bank. It is a sad state of affairs, but it is a reality.
Nehru was opposed to mixing religion with politics. He was opposed to the president of India Rajendra Prasad going to Somnath Temple for its inauguration. Rajendra Prasad did not heed Nehru’s advice and went ahead. But his daughter Indira Gandhi had no such inhibitions. Epecially in her new avatar after emergency debacle, she used to flaunt her religiosity, like Modi does today.
Here are other sharp perspectives on the relevance of Rahul Gandhi’s religion:
Rahul is trying to follow his grandmother. He has also realised that negation of religion as a political strategy had proved to be a disaster in Gujarat. And he has also realised that he has to wear his religion on his sleeves as part of political strategy. And if he is doing so, then he should be ready to pay for any slip. He is out to prove that he is no less Hindu than Modi. He is visiting one temple after another.
In Gujarat, Congress is branded as a Muslim Party, and is not expected to do well if Rahul does not break this glass ceiling. It’s a trap but so it is. Such tendencies will weaken India’s democratic processes but who cares as long as these strategies pay dividends.
But the crucial question is, will it help Congress and Rahul? Will it make him victorious? If it does, then overt display of religiosity will be the new fad for non-BJP parties; they will also be tempted to experiment with religion. And if he fails? Then what? Whatever the outcome, India will pay huge price.
Ashutosh is a member of Aam Aadmi Party
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