Ahmedabad (AsiaNews) - Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, is a danger to India's minorities and a threat to secularism in the country, this according to by Fr Cedric Prakash, director of the Prashant Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, who spoke out after the politician said he felt sad "as when you run over a puppy" in relation to the 2002 Gujarat massacres. A prominent member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party, with his constant "controversial, vulgar and extremist comments," Modi showed that for him "the minorities of the country and particularly the Muslims have no part in his scheme of things." Here are Fr Prakash's reflections to AsiaNews.
Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, has done it again! He continues to prove that he not merely suffers from a 'foot-in-the-mouth' disease but that he is becoming more and more rabid and perhaps even unstable.
After his "puppy" metaphor in the context of the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 in an interview to a foreign news agency 'Reuters', he has now lambasted the Congress party saying that "whenever they are faced with a crisis they wear the burqa of secularism and hide in a bunker"; this was at a public rally in Pune on July 14th.
This serious gaffe by Modi (which has naturally provoked a national outrage and condemnation) is not about whether the Congress party has been living up to the challenges or not, but of the nature of his expression.
The 'burqa' is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public. Many Muslims believe that the Quran, their Holy Book require that men and women dress modestly in public.
By using the word burqa in a derogatory manner, Modi has once again made his intentions very clear: the minorities of the country and particularly the Muslims have no part in his scheme of things.
Further, by communalizing and trivializing 'secularism', Modi once again demonstrates that he clearly does not believe in the Constitution of India. The word 'secular' (even if it is not practised by many) is a concept very sacred to the vast majority in this diverse country.
The 'burqa of secularism' therefore is not merely about a choice of words or the mental stability of someone who by putting his foot into the mouth evokes a sadistic pleasure among a section of the country. It is far more dangerous! It is about the mind-set of someone who is desperately trying to project himself as a possible leader of the country. The phrase is reflective of a deep hatred towards the Muslims (and surely of all minorities) and the fact that he would never want India to continue as a secular nation. In the above-mentioned interview which he gave to Reuters, he very boldly proclaimed that he is a 'Hindu nationalist'.
If one goes by the core ideology of the Sangh Parivar whose sole desire is to make of India a 'Hindu State', Modi's utterances are right on track. While most thinking Indians (including some of his own party men) have objected to his divisive, derogatory and polarizing remarks, one should also take note that if Modi is not reined in effectively at this juncture or defeated comprehensively by the electorate, it may truly be the end of India as a secular country!
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)