By Suresh Doré
MIXING RELIGION WITH POLITICS
In the Indian way of life religion plays an important role and the basis of our day-to-day life is religion. Political leaders right from the beginning felt that if there is any possibility of retaining unity in India, it should be by remaining secular. That is why Gandhiji had been preaching brotherhood among the different religious groups. Nehru was a strong supporter of secularism. Their efforts could not divorce religion from politics rather in politics the vested interests started exploiting caste and religion for gaining political advantage.
With the passage of time India was divided into Pakistan and Bharat only because two nations theory was accepted by the Britishers. Even after Independence, the religious fervor could not be finished because the trail of the memories of the partition haunted the minds of the people, Still India managed to keep the communal forces under check. But the opposition parties exploit religion and theocratic States established in Pakistan and Iran encouraged fundamentalism all over the world. Recently in Punjab religion and politics are so closely interwoven that it has become difficult to separate them.
Religious places are used for political propaganda and the religious sentiments of the people are excited in order to gain political control of the State. This emergence of religion-political party has threatened the secular character of India. It is feared that if it succeeds there is a possibility that many other political parties with caste and religion as the basis may come up.
Mixing of religion with politics is a dangerous trend because religious attitude is diametrically opposed to democratic feelings. Religion encourages fanaticism and suspends our reasoning power and we repose full faith in leaders. We are prepared to make sacrifice because sacrifice will be considered martyrdom. This mental attitude is directly opposed to democratic spirit. Democracy demands open mindedness, universal brotherhood and thinking based upon reason and capable of taking its own decision. In such cases, there is no herd tendency and the person is liberal in outlook.
If religious forces are allowed to become powerful there will be disintegration of the nation and sovereignty of the State will be in danger. There are a large number of religions, castes and sub- castes in India, and unfortunately some of them are opposed to one another as far as their practices are concerned. Under such circumstances, there is no possibility of keeping them together if once there is fragmentation.
Religion is a private affair and if it is allowed to appear in public affairs it will corrupt politics. All the crimes committed in the name of religion in the past as well as in the present one cannot forget. A large number of people have been put to death in Iran only because they do not follow the Islamic religion up to the last Point. So religion makes a a man blind and it will never encourage opposition.
So if we want to consolidate democracy give firm foundations to it and make its working successful, it is necessary that the people should keep religion apart from politics. It is wrong to think that with the help of laws it is possible to divorce religion from politics. Till the attitude of the people is changed, and till they rise above the petty considerations it is not possible to keep religion and politics apart. By keeping them independent of each other, we can retain democratic set-up.