Congress’ biggest mistake was its insistence on secularism: Mark Tully
Veteran journalist and writer Mark Tully said insisting upon ‘secularism’ while neglecting the country’s devotional religions was a ‘mistake’ made by the Congress and which helped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Addressing a gathering during an event in Goa, Tully said on Thursday evening that Congress’ ‘mistake’ allowed the BJP to rise and impose its version of Hinduism in the country.
“First of all ‘secularism’ is not the right word to use in this Indian context at all because secularism has a connotation of hostility towards all religions or indifference towards religion and Indians are not hostile to religion and Indians are not indifferent to religion,” Tully said.
“The mistake the Congress party made was to continue with this word secularism... that left the BJP free to say we are the party of Hindus and this is Hinduism… The Congress should have found in its politics some place for the Hindu community just as it found for Muslims or others,” he said.
Tully, who was the BBC’s India correspondent for more than two decades, also had some advice for the Congress party.
“I think that today what the Congress should say is that India is a country where 80% call themselves Hindus and we believe that Hinduism, which is natural to India, is a pluralistic religion, a religion which is proud of being tolerant and welcoming to other religions, proud of India’s history,” Tully said while admitting that his views would be controversial.
“That’s what I think the taste of Hinduism in this country should be and I do think that for years and years Congress was playing up that secularism business meanwhile they were completely ignoring the fact that 80% of the country are Hindus,” the Padma Bhushan awardee said.
Tully, who spent decades covering India since the 60s, also said the ruling party at the Centre, which was trying to make the country a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, had also succeeded in building a ‘BJP-mukt Bharat’.
“Because all politics has become about Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi. The whole thing is an enormous personality cult. That what should tell you about politics about this country. One of the things he manages is he manages to get people to forget by having some new tamasha and the elections were the classic example,” Tully said.
“There was no discussion about how well or how badly his programmes were. The whole thing was turned into a jamboree about Indian nationalism and Hinduism. Surely the public is entitled to a debate which they couldn’t do this time,” he added.