The communal divide is sending wrong signals to the society. When political parties for their vote banks get such an opportunity, they don’t let it go. Majority of the common people don’t like to be divided on religious lines. They try to bring to power the parties and leaders having secular outlook. Peace in the society is as important as the welfare schemes. Because of the feeling in the majority people that the leaders are putting their rights at risk to please minorities, BJP became stronger in north India. More than opposing other communities, the concern about their religious ideals being in danger was the main reason for this. There was feeling that injustice was done to them during the rule of Congress party and regional parties. Ayodhya dispute and Ram temple construction are the basis for this but they are not the main issues. With the message that it will be in the forefront to address the concern of the majority people, BJP emerged as a leading party. BJP became stronger with the argument that it will do justice to majority and not injustice to minorities. The Congress failed in giving an assurance that it will treat both the sections equally. As a result the party continued losing its base.
Religion is an issue connected with sentiments. However, this is something personal. Socially all living together is an integral feature of India’s culture for centuries. The country had been protecting this even after independence. However, during last two three decades the use of religion increased in the competition for political opportunities and power. Still, the impact of this is minimal in south India. Only in Hyderabad and its surroundings, parties like MIM which have religion as main issues in their agenda have been winning the elections. In the remaining places, majority of the seats are won by the parties which want to carry all sections with secular outlook. However, there is no dearth of forces looking to exploit religious issues for their expansion. A nation-wide debate is currently on over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). For some time the political parties in the country have split into two camps to fight with each other. The law was made with the Parliament’s approval. The political parties expressed their opinion on the floor of the Parliament. However, these parties are also displaying their other side by undertaking public protests.
In a democracy, the parties have to act with sensitivity. If a section is opposing a law passed in the Parliament, they should respond cautiously. Otherwise they should convey their stand directly to people. These parties supporting or opposing the protests by a community will threaten the democratic values in their respective parties. It is an undeniable fact that the law and order situation in Delhi was created due to BJP and Congress backing two different communities. As a result of this the parties may gain or lose the votes but politically they will suffer in the longer run. This the reason for BJP’s defeat despite the presence of its stalwarts. Usually majority of people will not be concerned about the laws throughout their life. Citizenship Amendment Act is an issue not concerned with the daily life of the majority of people in the country. There are apprehensions that a section of people among refugees who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan may suffer discrimination. Intellectuals say that CAA will not impact even one in thousand people. Still the issue is raging. The entry of politics in it is the main reason.
The main reason for the protests is the apprehension that in future CAA may lead to National Register of Citizens (NRC). The Centre needs to clear people’s doubts over this. Instead of giving the clarity, the repeated assertions that CAA will not be rolled back are adding fuel to the fire. In states like Andhra Pradesh there are no major anti-CAA or pro-CAA protests. The protests are being held here and there and they are just to express their opinion. However, leaders like MP Asaduddin Owaisi through their visits are whipping up passions. This appears to be gathering momentum. Statements by YSRCP leaders like party MLA Mustafa that if anti-CAA resolution is not passed by Assembly they will resign should be seen as contempt of the party. This is a test for YSRCP leadership. Similarly TDP MP Kesineni Nani supporting Asaduddin Owaisi’s public meeting and participating in the meeting with him has also created problems for TDP. There is lot of restraint in Andhra Pradesh over religious issues. However, if the leaders move with short term interests in mind and without considering all aspects, the leadership will be held accountable.