Millennium Post

Hollow promises?

A well known political commentator, in his recent column on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on religious tolerance, looked back into history and recalled what former Prime Minister, the late VP Singh, said at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the early 1990s. Before getting into the intricacies of what Singh said on the matter, it is imperative to establish some context. Singh, along with the Bharatiya Janata party, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, defeated the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress in the 1989 general elections. The period, however, coincided with the rise of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which sought to build a temple dedicated to Lord Ram in place of a mosque in Ayodhya. Singh later discovered that the movement could splinter India along communal lines and consequently he broke off his partnership with the BJP in 1990.

This act, however, also spelt the end of his government, which was propped up by 82 BJP MPs. A reporter, however, had informed Singh that the party possessed leaders of Vajpayee’s ilk, who were not communal in their outlook. To this, Singh said something to the effect that it was pointless for leaders to wax eloquent on pacifism, when their followers carried out business as usual on the ground.

The same could be said of Prime Minister Modi’s words of solace aimed at religious minorities at a recent Christian gathering. Speaking at a public gathering in Rohtak BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said that the controversial ‘Ghar Wapasi’ programme will continue till religious conversions are banned. In contrast, Modi said that his government will ensure that every Indian has the “undeniable right” to adopt or retain their beliefs without undue influence or force. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to not take Modi’s words for granted, when his own party members speak to the contrary.
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