If you follow the news in the past few days, you will observe a lot of column space has been devoted to Fali Nariman’s questions about the appointment of Yogi Aditya Nath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. He even went at length saying, “The prime minister may deny it but that is my assumption that appointing a particular person…as the chief minister is in itself an indication that he wishes to propagate a religious state.”
My question to Mr Nariman and many others is would he have raised the same question if the person appointed as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was a Islamic Priest or a Christian Priest instead. Mr Nariman is an erudite expert on the Constitution and surely he knows the law a lot better than most of us around but what exactly is meant by secularism?
Speaking during a television interview, he mentioned, “The Constitution is under threat. With the massive electoral victory in UP, a priest has been installed as the chief minister at the insistence of the prime minister… is a signal and if you cannot see then either you are the spokespersons of political parties or you must have your head or eyes examined.” I am curious, does the Constitution specify that a Hindu Priest cannot be Chief Minister of a state? Doesn’t the Constitution give the right and freedom of expression to every single Indian citizen.
Somehow I feel, given our complex social construct, secularism is often confused with appeasement of minority religious groups. Isn’t secularism all about treating every community or religious with equal respect. 300 Hindu families were unable to perform Durga Puja in a village in Birbhum under pressure from other religious groups. I am very curious how do the likes of Mr Nariman justify that. West Bengal does not have any Priest as CM. Or repression of the rights of Hindus is how we look at secularism in our country? I am very curious would the same pal of silence been observed if 300 Islamic families were unable to celebrate Eid.
As a woman having faced the ire of irresponsible men abounding the streets of Uttar Pradesh,a big pat on the back of Yogi Aditya Nath for introducing the anti-Romeo squads. Surprising isn’t it that what a priest understood as a basic right for women in the state was ignored by many other Chief Minister’s with families and with daughters as well?! Perhaps it is important that we concentrate towards nation building and all constructive measures in that direction instead of nitpicking on unreasonable religious grounds.