Election, Religion, and Indian politics

Politics is a sideshow in the great circus of life…

Politics is derived from the Greek words ‘Polis’ which means community and ‘Poli’ meaning many. Politics can be defined as the laws, methods and practices of a group which makes decisions (i.e. a government over a community).[1]

According to Robert A Bahal, a Political scientist, Politics is a sideshow in the great circus of life. The main aim of a political system is to provide all-round growth to a society which in turn will lead to a rise in status of each individual and providing a strong foundation to the nation.[2]

Earlier in primitive society people were living brutish, nasty, and chaotic life according to the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes. To overcome the difficulties of the circumstances they felt the need of a political system to govern themselves in some well thought-out way so that the Life of the people would be smooth, simple and easy. But today’s reality doesn’t meet with such vision and convictions of the people of that time. The Political system, are getting more complicated with every passing second in its aims and objectives and its ways to full fill the same.

Religion means a lot…

“Religion is that set of symbolic forms and acts which relates man to the ultimate conditions of his existence”

– Robert Bellah.

“Religion is a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of life”

– J. Milton Yinger

“Religion” is “a system of beliefs and practices by which a group of people interpret and respond to what they feel is sacred and, usually supernatural as well (Johnstone, 2004:13).”

– Ronald Johnstone

“A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” (Emile Durkhaiem . It can be modified by adding, temple mosque, Gurudwara et cetra.)

Summing up the entire definitions and the self-observation , I have come to a conclusion that the religion is set of particular practices and beliefs about some unseen natural powers whose blessing and guidance which are just alike our shadow. Religion plays a crucial role in any person’s life. The way of thinking, living and attitude towards anything have a huge influence of the religion practiced.

Hinduism, Islam, Sikh, Christianity has been historically secular…

India’s own past is far more relevant in this context, for, unlike Europe, India does not have a history of theocratic state.  As far as Hindus are concerned, there is no treatise on politics that is regarded by them as infallible. In fact, the tradition of Raja and Rishi represents a clear distinction between a spiritual and temporal role. The two roles were inter­connected but autonomous. Then why rightist people are claiming the Patriotism and Hinduism should go together. The religion is no proof of any kind of Patriotism. The Patriotism is abiding by the constitution, working for the development of the nation to lead the nation to its highest civilizations to where it belongs.

Eight hundred years of rule by the Muslim Kings in India is equally marked by its pluralistic characters. Though the king and ulema interacted, secular authority always reigned supreme. A third dimension of the Muslim polity, viz. Sufis carved out their own autonomous domain, often in defiance of both the king and the ulema. But the recent trend is ostensibly much varied from the ethos of the Islam. The fanatic followers of the religion desire to make the beliefs as the lifeline of the political system. They want the Aayat of Koran should be the law of the land. Does it really make sense? No, definitely not, It’s terribly embarrassing and nothing else. The politicians of the muslim community or the Politicians whose vote bank consists of muslim voter tries to manifest such agenda and mislead the innocent people of the nation to grind their own axe. Resultantly and ultimately the sufferer will be people not the politicians. So, the voter should cast their vote not to vote their caste.

The lesson of the Sikh history is no different. The fact that spiritual and temporal affairs were conceptualised in the Sikh tradition by two distinct terms peeri and meeri, respectively, symbolised by two swords of the gurus and two separate forums of Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat, clearly implied duality. Sikh religion and politics though closely related were autonomous. The autonomous character of their religious and secular leadership and institutions became more pronounced after the gurus.

Indian Constitution is Secular in its Ethos…

The term “secular” is eloquently expressed in the preamble of the constitution. And preamble is the mirror our constitution. The Supreme Court of India held that the Preamble is part of the constitution in Keshavananda Bharti case. And it was also held that the basic features of the constitution can’t be amended. Hence, any statute, legislation or any law needs to pass the test of constitutionality for its implementation or enforcement. The duty of interpretation of statute, or law rests with the judiciary. Whenever such situations come they do the same.    And the same happened with Sec123(3) of the Peoples Representation Act. .

Election laws that has been debated widely across the nation…

The Section 123 (3A) says: “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.] 8[(3B)   The propagation of the practice or the commission of sati or its glorification by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of the candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.

 For the purposes of this clause, “sati” and “glorification” in relation to sati shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1988).]” The Section 122 (b) of the Act also considers as bribery “The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidates or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to religious symbols…”

The Election Commission is not only to conduct elections but also to prepare the roadmap for the future reforms. A vibrant, election commission is necessary to ensure that basic structure of the Constitution is not eroded by declining politics. The attitude of Government towards developing decent conventions towards a vibrant democracy is not only playing mayhem with the democratic values but threatening to spoil the expectations of people. 

Supreme Court guidelines  

Supreme Court recently ruled that “religion, race, caste, community or language would not be allowed to play any role in the electoral process” and that election of a candidate would be declared null and void if an appeal is made to seek votes on these considerations.

The genesis of the case lies in the 1990 Assembly elections to the Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly. The appellant Abhiram Singh, a candidate of the BJP, was elected from Santa Cruz constituency. The respondent, a candidate of the Congress party came in second. It led to an election petition alleging that the appellant had appealed for votes on the basis of Hindu religion. The election petition was allowed by the Bombay High Court in 1991.Singh went to the Supreme Court in appeal. The limited question that the Court considered in its judgment today was the interpretation of Section 123(3) of the Act.

Justice Thakur noted that the Constitutional ethos forbids mixing of religions or religious consideration with the secular functions of the State and that religion remains a matter personal to the individual with which neither the State nor any other individual has anything to do. The main thrust of its politics is ‘Hindutva’. Following the SC judgment in 1995 declaring ‘Hindutva’ a way of life, the pro-Hindutva forces have exploited this judgment to an extent that has no precedent.

“An interpretation that will have the effect of removing the religion or religious considerations from the secular character of the State or state activity ought to be preferred over an interpretation which may allow such considerations to enter, effect or influence such activities,” Justice Thakur said.

Conclusion

In present scenario politics smells like rotten fish and the politicians sound like fish market. They creates ruckus over so sensitive issues, where they are needed to contemplate and find out a way to overcome the problem. Sometimes they manufacture new issues in the factory to grind their own axe. Propaganda and deceit always go together, and the Indian politicians are well versed at this.

The violence in Muzaffarnagar riot, Babri Maszid demonstration, and beef ban are the highly debatable issues but of very least importance in respect of the growth and the development of our nation. But none of our so called leaders live each other behind in spreading hatred amongst the different sections of the society professing different religion even many a times they go on provoking the people to serve their own means. In fact, members of every community need to associate with those of other communities to promote their class, professional and cultural interests through, say, organisations of workers, peasants, occupational groups, writers, artists, etc

Recently Uttar Pradesh is going to elect its new government. The politics of UP is well known for its communal colour. In this regard, the judgement of the Supreme Court is a slap on the face of such hatred spreading politicians. But we will also come to know of its implementations and the power, function and loyalty of the Election commission either to the people of India or the politicians. State elections are also due this year for Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Let’s see the new way our  dear politicians and also the new abbreviated or invented politics.

According to the social scientist Plato Societies aren’t made of sticks and stones, but of men whose individual characters, by turning the scale one way or another; determine the direction of the whole”. So, we need a free fair election, where people are not enticed on basis of religion, race, and caste rather they should be influenced by the political, economic, and industrial policies. If this had happen our country would have been all great again in all fields.

Politics and religion should not be separated in its primitive stage but in the prevailing circumstances it should be stopped to be mingled and a good step has been taken up by the SC….

[1] http://www.spaceandmotion.com/Philosophy-Politics-Globalisation.htm

[2] behallaw.com/robert-j-behal



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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KOMAL

Komal has done her schooling from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya , Birauli, Samastipur, Bihar. Currently, she is pursuing BA.LLB at Chanakya National Law University, Patna. Intrinsically passionate about News paper, Books and Basketball, her interest extends to understand the intricacies of the current legal issues. She yearns to be a renowned lawyer.

2 thoughts on “Election, Religion, and Indian politics

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