ThePrint asks experts:
Should Rahul Gandhi’s religion matter in politics?
What is Rahul Gandhi’s religion?
INC response to Rahul Gandhi’s religion is not surprising at all. The secular janeu (Brahminical thread) party has done a self goal by outing itself by simultaneously othering and patronising minorties, dalits, and tribal people. Homogenised Indian identity has been the savarna Hindus’ wet dream.
Rahul Gandhi is not just a Hindu but a janeu-dhari Hindu. To claim Indianness, Rahul Gandhi must be a Hindu. And being Hindu is more than religious construct, it is a barometer of Indian-ness. Other religious minorities have less claim to Indian-ness. Anything other than a Hindu is like being a step child of bharat mata, who are offered tickets to Pakistan for outlining disappointments with the state.
But, being a Hindu is not good enough. One must be a proper Hindu. The Hindu of the best kind i.e a Brahmin. Not the folks that Kanshi Ram described as, “Before elections one is a Hindu, after elections one becomes a Harijan”.
Here are other sharp perspectives on the relevance of Rahul Gandhi’s religion:
The saviour syndrome of Gandhian thought is what makes Congress supporters apparently secular yet janeu dhari Hindu. Much like the savarna Hindus who celebrate Diwali in offices but skip Ravidas jayanti and continue to throw around the cliché that Hinduism (Brahminism) is a way of life — like feku spiritual god men.
Recently, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he was raised to be oblivious about caste privilege in an article, and then went on to appease Rajput sentiments (a.k.a. caste pride) in the wake of Padmavati row.
The only identity Rahul Gandhi should project is Pidi’s coochie coo. That is safe and abstract and probably could win him some votes from the demographics who have been under the fire since 2014. Janeu-certified Brahmin badge is going to be counter-productive.
His secular grandfather never objected to use of suffix ‘pandit’. His grandmother has been called a panditayan during the 80’s when Sikh identity was under fire from the Indian state. Hellova secular family Rahul Gandhi has got. Wearing caste pride like Arvind Kejriwal wears a muffler and still want to be secular. Assimilation into Brahminism is a re-affirmation of the soft Hindutva that the Gandhi family has always enabled.
He could gift his spokesperson a copy of some anti-caste writings by Dr Ambedkar before showing off his janeu. This is 2017 and we can do away with this oppressive symbol of caste supremacy, and demarcations of purity and pollution.
The so-called Congress liberals feign naivety with tweets like: “I am a Hindu and a nationalist, but not a hindu nationalist”. Deep down, these constructs do conflate. Otherwise, why would we be given ‘too-much-information’ about Rahul Gandhi’s friendship band from Lord Manu? Their soft hindutva politics gives them a free hand to flaunt janeu while preserving their progressive credentials.
Shivani Channan is a Dalit meme-maker, writer, and a poet.