Anti-communalism meet brings 14 parties together

This is not the right time to talk about a new political front and the more pressing need is to unite all democratic and secular forces as much as is “practically possible,’’ Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said at an “anti-communalism” convention initiated by the CPI(M) here on Wednesday.

At the coming together of 14 non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party parties at the “Convention for People’s Unity Against Communalism,” regional parties used the occasion to project a broad platform against communalism to challenge the Gujarat model of development by projecting States such as Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Orissa as examples of good governance.

Mr. Kumar said communalism and terrorism thrived on each other and both should be fought with equal determination. He warned against creeping fascism where even difference of opinion was not tolerated. Pointing to the way Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was criticised for praising Bihar’s development, he said this was reflective of a fascist mindset and warned that the media – which has been giving Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a lot of airtime – would be stifled if such forces came to power.

Maintaining that Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism were equally harmful, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said what India needed was “secular nationalism.’’

With the Janata Dal (Secular) drawing flak for aligning with the BJP in Karnataka in the recent by-elections, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, sought to remind the gathering that he dismissed the BJP government in Gujarat despite reservations expressed by his allies in the Left and regional parties.

The crowd had a sizeable number of Samajwadi Party supporters and slogans were raised in support of SP chief Mulayam Singh and Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav.

Mr. Mulayam Singh insisted that his party had been single-handedly fighting communalism in Uttar Pradesh since 1989. He admitted that the right-wing forces managed to succeed in Muzaffarnagar, which recently witnessed communal violence.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Biju Janata Dal representatives said their governments in Tamil Nadu and Odisha were providing good governance.

Reading out Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s speech, AIADMK representative M. Thambidurai said: “Exemplary governance and not merely good governance is the self set goal of my government.’’ On communalism, she lamented its growth in recent times but also called for an end to appeasement politics. “The Indian State is often seen to be acceding to the pressure of both minority demands at one time and to majority demands at another, which has fuelled the activities of various groups and encouraged them to engage in ‘one gunmanship’ in their search for demonstration of loyalty to the issues being embraced by the majority and the minority groups, which has contributed towards the heightening of fear and is a threat to human lives and livelihood.... This has to be done away with, for secularism does not mean appeasing one section of society while suppressing the other.’’

Other parties which participated in the convention were the CPI, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Forward Bloc, the Republican Party of India, the Asom Gana Parishad, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and the People’s Party of Punjab.

Resolution

The resolution adopted said India was a country with various religions, languages, castes and cultures, but with unity in diversity. This unity was under threat from communal forces, which intensified their campaign before Lok Sabha elections. It was necessary for secular and democratic forces to counter communal forces in a united manner.

More In: National | News