Saying without saying

CAA is one law that has caught the imagination of the nation like none other

By Air Vice Marshal Rajeev Hora

At the very outset, we will lay down two acronyms for this post. We will call the political party in power as PnP and the opposing parties as OP. It should not go unnoticed that I do not use the words ruling party at all. As far as I am concerned, the so-called rulers left India more than seven decades ago. So today we are going to discuss politicians, ideology, perceptions, hope and power.

Ideally speaking, in a true democracy, the real purpose of politicians should not be to rule but to provide a service. A service of laying down policy in accordance with the wishes of a ‘somehow arrived at’ majority. Thereafter enshrining the same in the form of laws and ensuring their compliance through various instruments of the state.

The caveat is that laws should also be in alignment with the constitution which is a set of guiding principles arrived at during the formation of our republic or amended as we learnt along the way. Constitutional protection is a must to protect against short-term agenda politics which often tend to attack the very foundation of our nation.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 is one such law which has caught the imagination of the nation like none other of its kind. Not only within the country but its ripples are being felt across the world. On one hand, we have the OP influenced masses in non-PnP states protesting on the roads. Conversely, we have the PnP driven media defending it with all its might in a pre-election push.

In very simple and oft-repeated terms, the CAA enables people who have come to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan on or before 31 Dec 2014 on grounds of religious persecution to be granted Indian citizenship. A small catch which is the bone of contention is that the refugees seeking asylum/ citizenship can be a Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jain or Parsi but not a Muslim.

It is understood that the exclusion of Muslims has been done because there are enough countries in the neighborhood which have Islam as a declared state religion. If there is persecution of a Muslim due to any reason, he has many options (apart from India) for refuge whereas non-Muslims and especially Hindus do not know whom to turn to.

The narrative is that we have a moral responsibility towards our ‘religiously defined brethren’ who are being persecuted in some chosen parts of our neighborhood. So in a way, the PnP is sending out a clear message that although the constitution does not say so, we are a de facto Hindu nation. Simply put, PnP is subtly reverting to the classic two-nation theory which was advocated as the basis of the partition at the time of independence.

The constitution as it stands today, reinforces the secular nature of our nation. They hope that this day is not too far away. They are convinced that this ‘secular’ or ‘sickular’ aberration as they call it, is the root cause of our problems and needs to be done away with. Equitable religious pluralism is utter nonsense and a bulwark to assertive nationalism.

When that day dawns would be dependent on when PnP has enough political power and risk appetite for taking that step. Or maybe, this is an issue to be kept alive permanently and brought to the fore only when required. However, what we are seeing today in the form of CAA is just a precursor to gauge the system by providing a stimulus. The waters were once tested in 2019 but today it is beyond that.

Going by the timing of the re-introduction of the controversy, the only intent that can be arrived at by the OP is about PnP deriving political mileage prior to the elections. One would be utterly naïve and dim to accept any other justification put forth by the defenders.

And that majoritarian power comes from electoral numerical superiority which needs to be maintained.

Join us because there is safety in numbers is the clarion call. And no better way to achieve that other than by polarization by affiliation. And here affiliation is being created by exclusion. Earlier ballot equations used to be around caste, now they are being pitched across religions. 100-M is the % target vote .

A frustrated OP questions, “Should we forget those who were persecuted after 2014? What about those who are feeling persecuted within the country? And those who are being persecuted in other countries in the neighborhood. And the millions of illegal immigrants who have managed an Aadhar card and walk around confidently like pseudo-citizens?”

“Look, we are not responsible for world-wide persecution. At the moment, we will concentrate only on the citizenry of Akhand Bharat only. Undivided India and the heady days of ancient Hindu civilization. That is where our nationalistic pride comes from. People need to feel good even if they are not feeling so good. And by the way, Aadhar was your idea.”

Akin to being excluded from a gully cricket match, an aggrieved party complains, “Are we children of a lesser God?” “Oh No! We never said that”, responds the PnP. However, what is not said but heard is, “We are children of a higher God because we brought the bat and ball. And don’t forget, even the arena is ours today.” Roman days echoes about quibbles about my Gods being stronger!

“But that is so unfair”, yells OP. “Say what is unfair OP?” queries PnP almost patronizingly.

“I can’t protest loudly because it will upset the majority. If I don’t, it will upset the minority. Why do you create such dilemmas for me?” murmurs OP.

“Oh dear, everything is fair if you know what. It is just that the foot is on the other shoe now.”

“So what should I do? What is the solution to this challenge that PnP has reserved for the last mile?” wonders OP shaking his head.

Says an inner voice, “Please play like Rahul Dravid or Narismha Rao”.

“You mean?”

“Dead bat them or do nothing. Remember this too shall pass.”

“I know that”, grumbles OP. “But I can’t. I have to oppose it because that is my dharma.”

With a smug smile, a soothsaying PnP retorts, “There you are spot-on OP. All along I have been telling you that your dharma (religion) is your problem”

Well my own dear friends in heated debate, whatever your dharma, please choose your pick.

But either way, you have to applaud the absolute masterstroke in perception management!

In total admiration,
Horax (Casper)

 

 

Air Vice Marshal Rajeev Hora superannuated from the Indian Air Force after 37 years of service. He is an accomplished aviator and test-pilot with extensive operational experience. Blog: seekmediation.com

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times

Images courtesy of BJP4Rajasthan and Image provided

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