Nidumamidi Math head Veerabhadra Chennamalla Swami, who is known for his progressive thinking and rational views, alleges that some religious institutions are forcing a caste-based voting system on people to protect their selfish interests as well as illegal wealth.

In an interview with The Hindu, he expresses concern that the unholy nexus between religious leaders and politicians, which is leading to instigation of caste-based voting, is not only against democratic principles but is also detrimental to society’s health. Excerpts from the interview:

Q. What is the role of religious institutions like Maths during the elections?

A. It is the social responsibility of all progressive minds, not just religious institutions, to ask people to support good candidates irrespective of caste and religion. Whoever has any kind of love or respect for this land will have to do this as good governance is possible only if good candidates are elected. In turn, this will help the State and people as such candidates will help formulation of good developmental projects.

But religious institutions appear to have joined hands with politicians in some areas.

Some maths, ashrams, churches and mosques are behaving like symbols of unholy nexus between religion and politics. They must understand that politics and religion are different.

They think that if they become close to political power, they can protect their wealth, empire of educational institutions, selfish interests of their maths and flow of resources. In no way does it suit religious faith. In fact it amounts to deceiving religion.

What will be the impact of such an unholy nexus on democracy?

To ensure that the political set up is on their side to protect their selfish interests, the religious institutions are actually forcing a system of voting on the basis of caste and religion on people. They are not allowing people to think liberally and come out of the narrow-mindedness.

In the interest of the country and State, politics should be above caste, religion and language. But most of religious centres are instigating and supporting caste-based politics. Some are publicly asking their supporters to vote for particular communities and sub-castes. It is a blot on religious sector.

Promotion of such immoral politics not only goes against democratic principles, but is also detrimental to the future of a healthy society.

Is there no liberation from such a menace?

People are actually seeking freedom from this. It is the stage of transformation. Struggles, though in a small manner, have commenced in different parts of the country to come out of the caste system and other lacunae in tradition. But it needs some time for such struggles to take an ideological form and explode.

But politicians and religious heads are forcefully confining people to the caste system. They have created insecurity among people by building an impression that if they shun caste, there is no existence.

How do you view the BJP government providing budgetary allocation to maths?

This should be seen from a broad perspective. Some powerful maths have been secretly getting huge funds or lands for a long time. But the system of directly providing grants to prominent maths of all communities started during the B.S. Yeddyurappa regime. This has helped Backward Class and Dalit maths also to get money. Such a process will lead to an unholy competition and friction among religious institutions/communities. Finally they may even become centres of full-time politics under the garb of religion.

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