A political chit-chat between two friends.
A-Have you noticed one thing in the modern politics of India?
A– Nowadays every politician loves to do temple run. It’s like Rath Yatra 2.0
B– Don’t you think it’s more of a vote yatra?
A-Yes, that what I want to say. Its new way to attract the vote bank without any promises about development. Our political candidate hopes to win an election by showing a fake connection to the voters. They show that they are close to the voter’s heart.
And what better way than seeking darshan at a temple or offer prayers at a mosque or church? These are places suffused with a deep faith of the people, and especially of the desperate ones.
B-Yes, you are right. In the 50’s and 60’s, our politicians coined the term ‘temples of modern India ‘. In 70’s, our politicians were busy in darshan of various places of worship. They also hobnobbed with gurus and yogis and wore a rudraksha mala, to get political and social brownie points.
A-Oh thank God you remember it, barely anybody remembers that. But that was a political tactic of old time. Our politicians have improved their way to fool the voter.
A-Now our so-called progressive politicians are busy in ‘temple run’. In this “run for the vote,” they go to different temples, offer prayers, declared that they wear the sacred thread, do publicity through media and tell that they are very religious. To execute this process successfully, many party workers distribute puja kits before election time. A puja kit is more attractive than TV sets and food processors, often given during elections.
B-It sounds like breaking the rules of election set by election commission?
A-Yes, it is. Our politicians are making the mockery of rules of the election commission.
B-Election commission should take strong actions against this kind of “religious distribution”.
A-Yes, Let see when that time will come when election commission takes this work as a serious issue of breaking the rules of election.
B-What other things politicians do to show the connection to the temple so that they can establish a connection to the voter?
A-They can project themselves as a ‘Hindu’, ‘Shiv Bhakt’, “Devi Bhakt …. etc depends on the election, the temple in that state, religion of population and coming festival.
By constitution, India is a free and secular country. But when it comes to winning the election, every party flaunt their faith in “Ishta Devta”.Whether a political aspirant believes in a faith or not, it is good if he or she does the rounds of hallowed places as a gesture of goodwill and solidarity with people.
B-Have you notice they change their dresses according to the temple?
A-Yes, because of the fashion matters. They match their attire according to the temples custom. Faking also needs perfection.
B-Don’t you think they also love to do Mosque run?
A-Ha Ha…. I know. For vote bank, they can do mosque run also. After all, we have 14.23% Muslim population aka Muslim vote bank. Our Indian politicians don’t want to any progressive work for our Muslim population. They don’t want to provide education and employment to these people.
And after all, if they will become educated they will also understand the game of temple and mosque run. They will also ask the question regarding development. That’s the thing our politicians don’t want.
B-Ha Ha…. You understand this game very well.
A-Yes, of course. This game is simple, our politicians divide our population according to their religion. And when the election comes, they do temple run and mosque run to get the vote bank. They focus mainly on temple and mosque run because Hindus made 79.80% of population and Muslim make 14.23 % of the population.
B-But why they don’t do church run, gurudwara run or other types of run?
A– Because Christian population is 2.3% and Sikh population is 1.79%. And other populations are so small in the percentage that our politicians don’t even care about them.
B-Politics sounds like maths.
A-Ha Ha…kind of.
B-People who are weak in maths can’t understand this game.
A-Ha Ha …. it’s not like that. People who are strong in maths they also can’t understand this game. And you can notice one thing also.
A-That these so-called modern politicians never visit a school and college. Because they don’t want to discuss the real issues like education, development, women security etc. They know that Indians are very emotional for their religion, so make them fool in the name of religion, grab their votes through temple run or mosque run. And they attract vote banks successfully without executing developmental work.
B-Ok….so that is the main plan. I must say that our politicians are the real mastermind.
But I am not able to understand that why is being a ‘soft’ Hindu seen as a weakness or taken as an accusation? (soft Hindu means those people who can even question their religion, these people have a liberal mindset). The same could be asked about being a soft Muslim, soft Christian or soft any-other-believer?
A– Because these ‘soft’ people understand their game of politics. And by the way, being ‘soft’ in this case sounds more logical and harmonious. The Dalai Lama also said that being secular does not mean shunning all religions; it means to live your faith or non-faith and let others live theirs if they have one. And if ‘soft’ Hindus are ridiculed and the ‘hard’ Hindus (including those who believe in rigid, archaic strictures and who are quick to take violent offense at the slightest hint of creative license or liberal interpretation) held up, then what are we left with?
We are at the mercy of authoritarian, brutal hardliners and culture police who fan violence and hatred in the name of defending culture and honour, and who, in the process, create vast vote banks founded on hate-identities, destroying all semblance of law and order, tarnishing the reputation of a millennia-old, rich, Indic secular tradition, besides making people feel unsafe and insecure.
B-You are right but what is the permanent solution for this?
A–First our election commission should take strong actions against parties who distribute religious material before elections.
Second, we should boycott those paid news channels who promote those issue and do a rubbish debate on religious topics.
Third, as a citizen, we should not support those candidates who spread hatred in our country in the name of religion.
Forth, our police and courts should take strong action against those political figures, political candidate, party worker or anyone who spread hatred in the country through videos, messages, hate speech or in any other way.
In order to bring back some semblance of normalcy and decency, as well as to promote love, peace, and harmony and restore the true spirit of a secular, ethical, law-abiding society, it is crucial for young and old politicians to embrace and promote soft Hinduism, soft Islam, soft Christianity, soft Sikhism … ad infinitum. Not only does it make political sense to expand and capture ‘soft’ vote banks, it is imperative to turn soft in order to oust the hard.
And as a Roman philosopher, Seneca said in the fourth century BCE that “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
And don’t forget- We all are human.