Disguised as democracy

In my post about Prof. Joseph’s hand-chopping incident, I had written about the intrusion of religious elements into the liberal, democratic and political spheres of Kerala in disguise. I think this is more dangerous than the Hindutva politics because Hindutva politics is there on the surface for everybody to see. Hindutvavaadis thrive on anti-minority sentiments and extreme Hindu-nationalist views, and everybody knows that. Hindutavavaadis never hesitate to boast upon their beliefs (except for the grooming campaigns of Narendra Modi these days), but on the other side, the hard-core Islamists chose to play different. When they learned that terrorism and an extreme Islamist movement is a growing concern in the public, they put on the mask of liberal activism and tried to play more left than the Left. While the Left in Kerala has left itself to be rotten, there was an empty space in the field of activism that was available for others to occupy. And the Islamists were quick to fill in that space. It is said that ‘even the BJP is Leftist in Kerala’. So the best way to get public acceptance was obvious – be more left than the Leftists.

The first step in that direction was taken long back – starting with media. A prominent Malayalam weekly and news daily is owned by such a group. They invited the prominent figures in the socio-political-liberal sphere to write for them and made a mark. Then came their student/youth organizations. They started campaigns and agitations on several issues – Capitalism, Globalization, Bourgeoisie, Western Imperialism, Environment, Development, Human Rights etc. When they shouted slogans against America and Israel, their tones were sharper than the Communists. When they talked about freedom of speech for M F Hussain, they kept mum on the threats and Fatwas issued to Taslima Nasreen. When they talked about Imperialism and Human Rights, they never talked about the Islamic imperialist countries and the grave human rights violation in those countries.

When Madani was released from jail, he also played the same political card. Madani was smart. He saw the possiblity of a wider political spectrum and thus included “Dalits” in his come back. The term “Dalit” had already become a fine selling point of all political parties by then. Madani also banked upon the same “anti-imperialistic” politics of the other Islamist organizations.

But people failed to notice it or chose to ignore. And our socio-political leaders kept taking part in their meetings and that image has been used to boast upon their public acceptance. And now the final step – Jamaat-e-Islami is forming a political party in Kerala. And what is their declared obective? Their Wiki page says, “Establishment of (Islamic) way of life in all aspects of life“. And their core doctrine? “the Divine Being is solely Allah, there being no God except Him, and that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger“. Tell me how it is different from the dream of a Hindu nation proposed by the Sangh Parivar.

Now we have a number of such “political parties” and “activist organizations” in our public sphere. And the news of bombs and detonators being placed in the public spaces and people being hacked in the name of religion is increasing day by day. Even though some of the socio-political leaders and intellectuals have turned a blind-eye towards such developments, the consolation is that there are people like Hameed Chennamangaloor who have been voicing against these groups openly since a very long time. And publications like Mathrubhumi weekly having open debates about this as cover stories. But that is not enough. People have to stand up and say, we don’t want an Islamic or Chrsitian version of BJP or Sangh Parivar. We don’t want religion in our political space. We don’t want that one God or multiple Gods and their doctrines to rule us, instead the secular ethos envisioned by the founding fathers of this country. We want to keep our democracy in place, how much shortcomings and failures it has.