One of the appeals of the BJP, one that has helped them win dominantly at the polls over the years, has been their firm and open vocal criticism of sectarian schemes - or what is called “minority appeasement” in Twitterverse and elsewhere.
The Congress and other parties have been quite accurately charged with minority appeasement- trying to play to the minority gallery, if you will - at the cost of the majority community. And the BJP has always been seen as an alternative to that dangerous agenda.
Remember when Prime Minister Modi said this at the meeting of the National Development Council in 2007: “...discrimination, amongst the eligible beneficiaries, for flow of funds based on minority status, will not help the cause in taking people of India together on the path of development.”
So perhaps this is why the hornet’s nest was stirred up a bit recently when the Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi outlined the vision of his department for this new term.
What was the vision?
Crores of scholarships for students of the minority communities, modernisation of madrassas, training madrassa teachers and students with special courses, launching schemes for minority students so that they fare better in competitive examinations, investing in waqf properties, and so on.
What’s the single theme running through this vision - an express focus on facilitating the betterment of one minority community and, quite clearly, sectarianism in policy - the very thing that the BJP is supposed to stand tooth and nail against.
Naturally, this led to some outrage.
But this outrage has seen BJP fans and supporters taking different positions - some odd, some others, naive.
Swarajya senior editor Arihant Pawariyaactually branched all these various defenders and opposers among the BJP supporters into interesting buckets drawing on a popular model in psychology. Do read that story - we’ll put the link in the description box below.
But for now, let’s set the record straight - once again - as Swarajya has done many times before.
Minorityism is NOT okay - whether it’s the BJP or the Congress.
That the Minority Affairs Ministryis running schemes worth over Rs 4,000 crore that aren’t available to the Hindus shouldn’t be accepted as ordinary, acceptable matter.
Those asking for more time for the government to get stuff right should know that the Prime Minister and his government are a good five years old. These aren’t early days by any stretch for Modi.
There are also some who are seeing this as some kind of a bargain - where Modi will give plenty of aid to the minority community - only to get to things like the building of Ram Mandir, introducing uniform civil code, etc, in return.
This is balderdash because the fight has to be against the sectarian approach to policy - to not be okay with or encourage creation of policy based on religion.
Sectarianism as a state policy should not be acceptable. Period.
Like Arihant writes in his piece, “If you sow the seeds of separatism, you can’t expect to reap the fruits of inclusion.”
If we are to put ourselves in the shoes of the BJP, here’s what we’d say - communicate what you’re trying to do with the policy and look at it once again - test it out against what you’ve stood for all these years - and for which you’ve received so many votes. This has been an important issue for the section of the electorate who have voted for you.
Congress-mukt Bharat is all well and good, but what is more important is Congress-mukt mindset. The Congress has been playing minority politics for far too long, so the BJP would do well, now, to steer clear of that. In that is its well-being.
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