Jan 22, 2024 – a low point in Indian democracy!

January 22, 2024 was a sad day. Millions celebrated Pran Prathishta at the Ram Mandir but history will count it among the lowest points in the history of democratic India.

Talking about Ayodhya is like opening a can of worms and I don’t intend to do that. Building of Babri Majid, appearance of idols, politics, rath yatra, demolition, even more politics, title suit every aspect of the issue deserves in-depth analysis on its own. I intend to pick up just one worm from the can and dissect that – the idea of secular state.

Nation coming together to celebrate a religious event is not new. Government supporting such an events is neither new. Kumb mela is an ideal example. It’s a religious event of a large scale supported by the government. Govt spends about 10,000 crore spread across years before and after the kumbh mela in preparation and cleanup. UP government declares public holidays during specific days of the mela. Ram temple was not constructed by the state and all the expenses are borne by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust. Then why Kumbh Mela is not an issue and Ram Mandir an issue?

The kumb mela is organised independently. Government provides logistical and law & order support but does not take centre stage in the festivities. Political leaders may participate in their own capacity but the state does not become a part of it. But, in the case of Ram mandir event, the entire might of Indian state was driving the event.

The S.R Bommai judgement of 1994 makes pointed observations regarding secularism in India. It says secularism forms part of the basic structure of the constitution and secularism was an integral part of the constitution even before the 42nd constitutional amendment of 1976. The provisions of the constitution “prevent the state from either identifying itself with or favouring any particular religion. Article 25 inhibits the Government to patronise a particular religion”. The judgement establishes secular nature of the state and goes a step further to mandate similar secular behaviour from political parities. Political parties must not appeal to any religion during their campaign.

These fundamental principles were violated by the government without even blinking an eye.

Districts and often states declare public holiday on days of religious importance. It is to ease the life of local residents in face of influx of devotees or in honour of long standing traditions of celebration on the occasion. But by declaring national holiday on January 22nd, the government has attempted to dictate a religious norm. The subjective aspects of state’s patronage including the half day holiday of central government offices may not obvious to everyone. Let there be no doubt where the allegiance of the state lies, the government took ownership of the consecration. The cabinet congratulated the prime minister for the consecration. It declared that the soul of the country was liberated on Jan 22nd. Lord Rama was termed the destiny of the nation. The cabinet called the inauguration of a religious structure as an advent of a new era. This blatant identification of the cabinet with a religion is contra virus to the constitutional values.

All this could have been avoided if the public holiday was restricted only to Uttar Pradesh and if the PM had attended the event as a guest alone. He can process his religious beliefs and can attend the event, but when the PM carries out the lead rituals himself, he’s doing so representing the state, the nation. The stance was later endorsed by cabinet. The government didn’t even bother about maintaining a veil of secularism.

Supreme Court has held that a state government can be dismissed if it’s not upholding secularism. Breach of secular state constitutes breakdown of constitutional machinery. When it’s happening at the national level, who’s to monitor? When, the people of the country, the conscience keepers of the constitution are rejoicing the government participation, isn’t one of the lowest points in Indian democracy?!

One response

  1. Info for your readers. MK Stalin and his son do not wish Tamil public for any Hindu festivals but they do regularly for Christian and Muslim festivals. They do not attend Hindu events but attend other religious gatherings. Udhayanidhi a sitting minister no less, said he will eradicate Sanatana dharma.

    All this happening in front of you in your home state. You never mentioned a word about ‘break of democracy, low point etc’. Yet a PM attends an event, says positive things, and it becomes a low point

    Libbys have a selective and contortionist application of such high principles. They condone every break of such principles by non-BJP entities. That’s why your article rings hollow

    Be mercilessly balanced, use the same language for your home state, then we will start believing your highly principled statements

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