Positive Secularism Equal Respect For All Religions

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By: Gangmumei Kamei

The Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P) is a national party of India with a difference. Its constitution spells out the objective, basic philosophy and the commitments of the party.

Objective:

According to the Art (ii) which explains its Objective the BJP is pledged to “build up India as a strong and prosperous nation which is modern, prosperous and enlightened…”

“The party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens, irrespective of caste, creed and or sex, political and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith and expression.

“The party shall bear faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India by law established and the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”.

Basic Philosophy

Integral Humanism, according to Art (iii) shall be the basic philosophy of the party.

Five Commitments

The party believes in five principles which are described as Commitments. The five principles are Nationalism, Democracy, Gandhian Socialism, Positive Secularism and Value based politics. Art (iv) deals with these commitments. “The party shall be committed to Nationalism, National Integration, Democracy, Gandhian approach to socio-economic issues leading to the establishment of an egalitarian society, free from exploitation, Positive Secularism, taht is Sarva Dharma Samabhav and Value based politics”.

Positive Secularism:

Positive Secularism is the philosophy of the religious and cultural policy of the party. The BJP recognises the diversity and pluralism of India; the multi-ethnic, multi linguistic, multi-religious and multi-cultural melieu of India’s population. The party believes in the “liberty of faith and expression” of the citizens. It has a deep allegiance to the principle and policy of secularism as provided n the preamble of Indian constitution. Secularism literally means “not concerned with spiritual and religious affairs”. Secularism generally means the belief that morality, education, politics or political system should not be based on religion. In political theory and practice, secularism aims at the separation of politics and religions. It is described in Sanskrit as Dharma Nripeks (non-religious). It is regarded as non participation in religious affairs.

The Party’s religious policy is explained as “Positive Secularism”, that is Sarvo Dharma Samabhav” which is one of the five commitments of the party. Sarva Dharma Samabhav means respect for all religions. It is a philosophy which respects all religions. This is a  deeper concept than the common secularism. The religious policy is not communal. It is not against any religion; no discrimination against any religion; neither anti-Christian nor anti-Muslim.

No Relation with “Freedom of Religion Bill” (1979)

O.P. Tyagi, an MP of Janata Party introduced a Private Member’s Resolution in Parliament. It was entitled “Freedom of Religion Bill, 1979”, according to which if a tribal is converted into a foreign religion he would be denied the benefits and facilities of being a Scheduled Tribe. This created a controversy; it was during the tenure of Prime Minister Morarji Desai of Janata Party. It was opposed by the Christian communities of the country including the Christians of the North East India. It was withdrawn and forgotten. But some vested interests, particularly the Congress workers continue to blame the BJP for this aborted resolution, despite the fact that BJP was established in 1980.

Since its inception, the BJP welcome all minorities, both Christian and Muslim. Manu Christians, Muslim leaders had become MLAs, MPs and Ministers in Assembly and Parliament from states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Goa and Nagaland. In Manipur the BJP sent up MLAs from amongst the Christian Tribal communities for example, Shri. Danny Shaiza, a Tangkhul Naga from Uklhrul and Shri. B.D. Behring, an Anal Naga from Chandel. Many Christian leaders had joined the BJP. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee nominated Dr. Abdul Kalam for the highest office of the President of India. He was elected as President. The BJP also supported Shri. P.A. Sangma in his election for the post of President of India.

The BJP is not opposed to the habit of beef eating by any community or person as alleged by som. But BJP respects every religion, community or culture. There is no discrimination against any religion.

Note: The author is a retired Professor of Manipur University and National Vice-President of ST Morcha of BJP.

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