With the increasing push for support of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, the ruling BJP government has clearly indicated in no unclear terms its intent to pursue the agenda of converting the country into a Hindu nation despite the the fact that with the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. Secularity is an age-old convention and one of the most important features to ensure the unity of the nation. However, neither India’s constitution nor its laws define the relationship between the state and religion thus providing the opportunity for influential zealots to abuse the faith of the majority to further their political ambitions using religion as a potent weapon. The central government is hell-bent on passing the Bill and the leaders make no bones about their decision.
On the other side of the divide is an increasing number of concerned citizens who are also hell-bent on making sure the bill get defeated in the Rajya Sabha during the Parliament session which ends on the 13th of this month. they have expressed their unwavering stand against the Bill and are leaving no stones unturned to make sure the political leaders and lawmakers come to their senses and understand the ground reality if the Bill is passed and becomes an act. For those standing up against the Bill, the fight is not merely for political relevance but for the continued existence and survival of the indigenous communities which will surely be overrun by non-muslim migrants from neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan once the Bill is passed, as there is no systematic process or arrangement in place till date to check or prevent any form of exodus or infiltration especially in the porous border states of North east India.
The unfortunate fact, however, is that politics is a game of numbers and the move by the BJP is a bold and daring one to canvass support from the Hindu heartland and to add to its vote bank so that it remains in power for a long time given the fanatical and growing intolerance increasingly being demonstrated against any resistance to the propagation of Hindu ideology. The concept of political dividends which is the driving force behind such moves has started turning the government towards religion and faith to cement its hold over the nation- a very dangerous precedent which is bound to have a regressive and more-than-possibly counter-productive repercussions in the long run once the initial euphoria dies down because good and lasting governance does not entail playing to the emotions of the majority but a conscious and studied approach to connect on a logical or intellectual level such that positive and constructive support is garnered for inclusive growth and progress.
Perhaps the leaders at the centre might have a chance to give the whole issue a good thought through the poignant words of renowned film maker Aribam Syam Sharma expressed when he was returning the Padmashree Award conferred to him in 2006:- “Life has no meaning to a man who has no future. It is a matter of grave concern that such a scenario is staring all the people of Manipur in the face today. When the indigenous people are reduced to a small minority, our unique culture will be diluted beyond recognition and Manipuri people will no longer have any identity. Our future is very bleak if such a Bill is passed. Tripura always serves as a living example of how the indigenous people of Manipur can be wiped out in no time.”
This time there will be much more than mere protests and usual pandemonium; this time there will be finality to the whole issue. It is up to the central government to decide the future of the country as we know it today.
Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.