Babri Masjid: Why is Secularism Such a Dirty Word for India Now?


Babri Masjid: Why is Secularism Such a Dirty Word for India Now?

Illustration: Akshita Monga


n September 25, Waris Pathan, a lawmaker with Asaduddin Owaisi’s party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, tendered a public apology for a video of him chanting “Ganpati Bappa Morya” that had been made public. Apparently, Pathan had faced dissent from within his party in response to which he had to apologise. That even a member of a minority party cannot avowedly wear the lightest shade of secularism today, is an indicator of the place we find ourselves at as a country.

Pathan’s retreat should be acutely scrutinised because he tried rubbing shoulders with a majority, but the underlying sentiment stands true for almost everyone under the sun. Almost three decades ago, with the demolition of the Babri Masjid what seemed like a gross violation of India’s core principles, an unstitching of its carefully sutured fabric of multi-culturalism, feels all too regular and natural. As the Ayodhya case goes into an endless loop of deferred hearings (the next date is an unspecified one in January), it is easy to blame the BJP and RSS for what happened 30 years ago. But their rise to power and prominence ever since, is as much a political dividend of the country’s inherent divide, as it once felt like the cause.