By Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam,
Within the next few hours Parliament will be debating one of the most burning issues the country faces: recurrent communal violence. Let us hope that the debate does not end up in a brawl like in recent past. Parliamentary etiquette is in constant decline and this august House of national debate and lawmaking has become an arena for rouwdyism, fisticuffs and spraying of powerful pepper extract straight into the eyes of fellows MPs.
Let us hope and pray that tomorrow things do not come to that sorry pass. We are particularly concerned because the issue at hand is of prime importance to the nation’s social and political life. It requires a national consensus, an all-party agreement to end this menace for ever. If at all it recurs anywhere, all those guilty of such violence must quickly be brought to book; lazy or otherwise erring officials must quickly be punished, and the victims duely compensated for their loss.
An issue on which we should have built a consensus 67 years ago has been left to fester as we have been wrangling about our own narrow party interests. As a result, a solution to this great national problem has always eluded us.
The Anti-communal Violence Bill, in more than one amended forms, has been gathering dust as the BJP opposition in UPA regime has always shot it down before anything meaningful could be done about it. To make sure that it never made it through the legislative process, the BJP branded it as “anti-Hindu”. Since then the draft has undergone many changes–some quite drastic–yet it could never pass muster.
If you want something to fail in India, you cunningly call it “anti-Hindu” and rest assured that will never succeed.
As an expert on the issue, Prof. Paul Brass, says that systematic communal violence is difficult to eradicate as it has become an indispensable part of the polity. A powerful political class uses it to advance its appeal and transform the communal antagonism into a vote-catching instrument. Given such deeply entrenched political interests in communal polarisation, hatred and violence nobody expects that it will come to its end anytime soon.
However, we hope that, if allowed, a sincere debate on the subject in national Parliament will clarify many issues and make it easier to identity, diagnose and cure this malady of our body politic in future.
Let us hope that tomorrow’s debate will lead to some change of heart and politicians used to taking advantage of communal ill-will in elections will give up their unfair advantage. The country needs such an act of faith from its political class. And we do hope that the debate will generate more light than heat.
(Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam Chairman Institute of Objective Studies and General Secretary of All India Milli Council.)