It’s no longer surprising. The BJP simply cannot stay away from its core Hindu agenda. There are reports now that the BJP plans to introduce compulsory education of the Holy Gita in schools in Karanataka. The BJP education minister there apparently stated that “No Indian who has values can oppose the Bhagavad Gita. Only those who love to adopt western culture can oppose the Gita. Such persons may well quit the country". Now there is no denying the merit of the Gita being a prominent Hindu scripture, but this plan casts the BJP in a very orthodox and conservative mould. It shows that the BJP never moved ahead from its two-decade old agenda.
The subject raises some pertinent questions:
1) Why is the party choosing to muddle in matters of faith when it has the opportunity of a lifetime to grab the corruption issue with both hands? Is it because the party realizes that it is as corrupt as the Congress or any other party? (Refer the Economic Times – Synovate study – published in the paper on April 17th this year – out of the 13 “most corrupt” states, BJP figured in five, Congress in four and the rest were single-state parties. Another way to look at this is that the Congress was named in four out of its 12 ruled states (33%), the BJP in five out of its 7 (71%), and the rest were ruled in the single state that they ruled in (100%)). Is it because it has already lost the anti-corruption plank to the so called apolitical civil society?
2) Since the party continues to deny its “saffronisation of education” charge all the time, why is it that such initiatives take place only in BJP ruled states? Prior to Karnataka, it was in MP that the BJP tried to teach Gita lessons in state schools. It had also tried to make the recital of “Vande Mataram” and performance of the “Surya Namaskar” compulsory....but was held back by the courts. And as we all know, even prior to this, the NDA government at the center – under the overtly saffron leader Murli Manohar Joshi – had tried to make Sanskrit language and the recital of “Sarasvati Vandana” compulsory in schools nationally. Is it mere co-incidence that such initiative originate during BJP rule and in BJP ruled states?
3) Why doesn’t the BJP publicly and unashamedly state that it is a pro-Hindu party? Is it worried that it will never be able to form a government at the center with a strident pro-Hindu attitude? Is it worries of not being able to attract coalition partners that makes it mute its saffron agenda rather than adopt it out with full conviction? Is the party so power-hungry that it is willing to sacrifice it core agenda only so that it can have a good chance of coming to power?
4) Why does the BJP mix politics into every discussion? Why does a discussion on terrorism invariably ending up discounting saffron terrorism as even a possibility? Why is the color of terrorism always green for the BJP if it were not for its politics?
In my mind, not only is the BJP harming the country, it is also harming its own prospects of ruling in the future. The party should have realized by now the limits of exploiting religion. In spite of the crescendo of support around the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, the party failed to scale the majority mark even once on its own. Even in 1999 when it came to power, it had to almost jettison its core issue in the effort to form a coalition. Even today, no political party – except the known saffron ones – want to tie up happily with the BJP. It’s only their anti-Congress stance that makes them do so. Even when they do tie up, almost all parties distance themselves from the BJP’s Hindutva positon. Take Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) in
Bihar for example. It doesn’t want to go anywhere near the BJP during election time! Why, it even refused to allow the BJP’s poster boy Narendra Modi into the state during election time.....
My own view is that religion is an extremely private subject. It should be left there. There is nothing wrong in teaching the Gita or any other Hindu scriptures but what is wrong that this be done in schools. I also don’t find merit in the proposal that all religions should be taught in school – I am sorry but in my world view, schools are for learning modern subjects and a new way of life, not religion. That job is entirely of the parents to do. Even society should not dabble in religion. Unfortunately society does – and we see this in the way people like to be seen in religious places for more reasons than just seeking solace or blessings. Unfortunately, our society requires that we be seen prominently at religious places.....isn’t it almost a PR exercise for many our people? Isn’t this why we choose the busiest day of the week to visit religious places? This is true in all religions (Christians during Sunday Mass....Muslims during the Friday Namaaz and Hindus on select dates of the week like Thursday is for Sai Baba and so on).
The real truth is that the BJP is playing with fire by pursuing its religious agenda. It knows that there is a real danger in doing so. It divides the people up rather than uniting them. It makes people doubt each other rather than trust each other. It makes us parochial and takes us back in time. Religion should be kept inside the home.....not brought out in the open. My sincere request to the party is to abandon it. And take up something else that is more relevant to a modern society.....