Appeasement Politics – The Saintly Bigotry of Indian Politicians
December 20, 2020
Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.
We live in a society where abstract forts are constructed. Beliefs and ideologies based on them are developed right from the foundation. We embrace a lifestyle owing to these ideologies and consider them sacred. There are multiple such ideologies which, when worshipped to an extensive level, will lead to a sense of or demand for superiority over others. To protect their own ideologies, people will put up walls leaving no place for the harmonious existence of diversity instead of accepting equality.
Thus, hatred ensues; ideologies clash, and bigots are created. Bigotry is basically an attachment to unreasonable beliefs and expressing them strongly along with disliking different beliefs or lifestyles. These generally are considered with respect to race or religion. Politically speaking, this is like a filter put on decisions such that it will benefit and promote a single ideology over all others. This goes against the very foundation of a secular nation.
In a country such as India, where the citizens live in a wide range of religious and other cultural diversity, political bigotry leans more towards supporting certain communities and depicting their superiority over others. Sometimes, community-specific decisions are taken for propagating equality or for the sake of winning the trust of the respective community. These are labeled as anti-secular when they support a majority community and anti-national when they support a minority.
‘Saintly’ bigotry in politics corresponds to the decisions taken by the party in control or those in opposition which channel their support towards members of a certain religion of majority or minority. This support is provided by the parties with two basic views in order to win political clashes and battles through people’s support. These views are strengthening the public support of one’s own party while at the same time, weakening that of the opposing party in order to win upcoming elections. In order to gain supporters, politicians resort to a method known as Appeasement Politics.
The Great Indian Appeasement Politics
In a general political reference, appeasement is providing political or material concessions to a certain aggressive power through various policies with a view of avoiding conflict. However, over the years, it has become a way for politicians to win over public favor for electoral success. Indian politicians have been seen indulging in Appeasement Politics in many cases to date. Groups of people are regarded as vote banks and their interests are given a voice only to sway their support through votes during elections. As a new electoral process comes closer, politicians start demanding attention to a certain problem a religious community faces. They start questioning the administration or authorities as to why some provisions have not yet been formulated in the interest of the respective community.
This attention though, this sudden ‘saintly’ outlook towards these communities, in maximum cases, lasts just as long as the electoral process itself. People are promised what they want the most. Minorities are promised representation and engagement, the poor are promised subsidies and economic packages. Religious sects are promised support in practicing and teaching their cultures with subsidies and facilities for all sorts of pilgrimages or rituals. When two religions clash due to a certain reason in which both sides have equally child reason, politicians deal the real hand of appeasement. Supporting one over the other, they pit the two against each other and create a problem for the ruling government in bringing back normalcy and peace. Backing the views of a single religion and baselessly deeming their needs superior over another is the true mask of saintly bigotry that is put on by most, if not all, Indian politicians.
Another aspect of Appeasement Politics is pseudo-secularism. Minorities are voiced for the sole purpose of turning the tide of mass support in favor of the corresponding politician or his/her party. When a valid argument is posed against these demands, the opposers are called out as anti-secular and devoted to only a specific community. However, as soon as the elections place them at the top, the politicians who were appeasing the minorities abandon ship and walk out on the promises they made to the public. This is pseudo-secularism or false secularism.
But, one must understand that there is a very thin line between appeasement politics and actual national politics. Sometimes, bills passed in the favour of a certain faction with the purpose of inculcating equality and making sure every faction of our country is provided the necessary means for overall growth. Supporters of a particular community accuse politicians of supporting other communities on the grounds that they are resorting to appeasement politics. Maximum clashes in this way are drawn from the critical Hindu-Muslim feud and hence, a majority of cases are on this basis. Every person must develop his/her own outlook regarding this which can only be made possible when all aspects of a political movement are taken into consideration. Only then can we decide the validity and truth behind political motives and thus, elect a better government to shape our country.
Incidences of Bigotry and Appeasement Politics
Hinduism is the religion of the majority population of India. Hence, clashes on the grounds of bigotry and appeasement occur regarding decisions related to other sects, especially Muslims. In recent years, many such incidents came to light. Some of these are –
26/11 Mumbai Attacks
26th November 2008. The date itself strikes pain and fear in the hearts of those that know of the dreadful terrorist attack. The day when 10 terrorists from the LeT ( Lashkar-e-Taiba ) came into Mumbai by sea and held the city hostage by occupying various prominent buildings and hotels for almost 3 days. As terrible as the incident itself were the decisions, accusations, and claims which happened in that period.
The LeT had planned its steps in a way such that all the terrorists would be portrayed as Hindus depicting Hindu or ‘Saffron’ terror. They all wore red strings (Kalaava) around their wrists as many Hindus do. The political party never fails to issue their condolences and gratitude towards this incident every year. However, the part they played as the ruling party during that incident was completely different. An overwhelming amount of evidence showed the involvement of Pakistan in this terrorist attack. But, while the entire world accepted the truth regarding Pakistanis involvement, the ruling party wove a story of Hindu terror saying that the conspirators were amongst us.
A short while later, the general secretary of the then Congress party, Shri Digvijaya Singh, published a book named “26/11 RSS Ki Saazish?” In this book, he showed that the attack of 26/11 was a Hindu terror attack that had been sanctioned by the RSS. No leader from the party opposed this action. This lie in the face of opposing evidence labeled the Khangress party as one which has double standards. This entire incident somehow was an act of bigotry on the part of the politicians of that party and this played a major role in their downfall in the upcoming elections.
First Claim on Nation’s Resources
In the December of 2006, the then PM of India, Shri Manmohan Singh, while addressing the National Development Council, said that Muslims had the ‘first claim’ on the nation’s resources. This statement caused a mass uproar among the citizens. The Sangh Parivar and the BJP criticized this statement and expressed their displeasure over the issue. The former Prime Minister, in his statement, said that the administration must devise new policies such that all minorities, especially the Muslim minority, will be empowered to receive an equal share of development.
His urge for equality was thawed by his following statement where he addressed the matter of the Muslims having the first claim on the resources. This claim disrupted the equality which was present while seeking it further by deeming a community as superior or having more priority over another. As a result, the citizens were highly displeased. The UPA was called out for minority appeasement policies.
This CM of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath, questioned this incident last year. He asked what would become of the other minorities if a single community, namely the Muslim community, was given first priority. The Jats, Gujjars, Scheduled Castes, and other such minorities would still face the same issues along with inferior treatment. This brought out the motives of appeasement in the statement made by the former Prime Minister.
Durga Visarjan and Muharram Clash
In 2016, the West Bengal government issued restrictions on the idol immersion ritual on the occasion of Vijaya Dashmi as it was just a day ahead of Muharram. This decision was revoked by the Calcutta High Court after multiple PILs were filed against it. The court had stated that no such decision which pits two communities against each other should be taken by the government and that this decision was a clear effort to appease the minorities.
Despite this, in 2017, the CM of West Bengal, Smt. Mamta Banerjee passed a similar decision. On October 1, Durga Visarjan was prohibited on the occasion of Muharram in a similar attempt to please the minorities. Even after past incidents, warnings, and a year to figure out a solution that might act in the best interests of both communities, a partial judgment and appeasement politics prevailed. Again, a community was prioritized over another. This can very well be considered as an infringement upon the fundamental rights of people practicing any religion.
Often, the earlier governments are accused of sowing the seeds of appeasement politics in our country. The inculcation of such tactics at an early stage resulted in its involvement in administration on such a vast level today.
One of the major cases of appeasement politics in India occurred during the tenure of former Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi. The Supreme Court of India, in its renowned judgment of 1985, invalidated the act of Triple Talaq. This judgment was seen as a violation of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which provides for free practice and propagation of all religions by many members of the Muslim community. The government revoked this decision of the Supreme Court by passing a bill in the Parliament under pressure from multiple Muslim groups. The Hindu community was displeased due to this action of the Government and labeled it as an act of appeasement of Muslims.
To win back the confidence and favor of the Hindu community, the former Prime Minister then took a step of appeasement in the other direction. The gates of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya were opened with his permission. This caused a huge disruption as the land of Ayodhya had been subjected to religious clashes between the Hindus and the Muslims for a long time. There was no particular decision addressing the validation of building a temple or a mosque on those grounds. Thus, the Muslims were displeased by the government’s decision which favored the Hindus. Hence, in the process of appeasing both sides, the moves made by the government backfired and they lost the support from both communities
Drawing the Inference
Bigotry and appeasement run deep within Indian politics. Over the years, many politicians have resorted to appeasement in order to gain public confidence and strength. As the ignorant public mindset continues to be swayed through such tactics, democracy is on the brink of collapse. Politicians support religious sects for personal benefits during elections and when the time comes to stand by the promises made by them, they abandon the supporters who I look up to them to form an administrative body that would provide equality and opportunities for them to develop.
There is a very thin but crucial line between a righteous government and one that works through appeasement just for the sake of power. Baseless arguments giving partial judgments are made. Filtering our own outlook in order to figure out the motives of our government representatives is very important at such times. We need to be observant of the promises made to us by our leaders and whether or not they are working to fulfill these promises.
Political appeasers only support the interests of those who hold the confidence of people from a certain community such as the fundamentalists. Ideological groups are approached and their benefit is promised for the price of their votes. And thus, the community, as a whole, does not step into the phase of development. For example, some educational statistics were provided by the Rajinder Sachar Commission which was created for the welfare of Indian Muslims wherein it was stated that the Muslim community has the highest dropout rates at primary level education. The political leaders who support the rights of Muslims have never questioned the educational provisions for Muslim students. The bar of educational availability remains low and hence, ignorance and orthodox mindsets prevail. This is because appeasing the fundamentalists while depriving the commoners suits the politicians in their hunger for votes.
Unfortunately, elections and their results are prioritized over actual social conditions which deserve more attention. Therefore, it is up to each one of us, as citizens of India, to be aware of the steps taken by our representatives and the actual growth and development they might provide.
To some extent, pseudo-secularism now holds the reins of electoral results. Resorting to these tactics in the thirst for power has now become a common aspect of politics, a known evil. And yet we do nothing but watch as it slowly takes over our administration. This mask of saintly bigotry that the politicians wear is a slur on the secular status of our country. Our country now requires assimilation, not appeasement. Winston Churchill had once defined an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile with the hope that it will eat him last. It is our duty to be the crocodile and rip out this arm of fake promises so that India can finally evolve into the ideal nation we want it to be.
Editor’s Note The author begins with an explanation of Bigotry and explains it in a political sense as well. The article goes on to specify the meaning of Appeasement and how it has become a way for politicians to win over public favor for electoral success. Some incidences of bigotry have been mentioned including the 26/11 incident, which created terror in the whole country. The author concludes by saying that our country requires assimilation and not appeasement.