In a scathing critique of iftar parties hosted by politicians of varied hues, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ today said such celebrations amounted to “secular tokenism” and go against the ritual’s spirit which requires common meals to be fed to poor rather than to “well-fed” political guests.
The editorial titled “The ‘Secular’ Tokenism” in the ‘Organiser’, said such rituals held in the name of secularism were “ridiculous” and the “tokenism” involved “encouraged minorityism” and “undermined the Indian ethos” by harping on identity politics.
“The real message of ‘blessings and forgiveness’ is missed out in this political tokenism. It is a mockery of the religion in which charity and generosity towards poor and less privileged through common meals is expected. The ridiculous custom of non-fasting people feeding the well-fed guests for political calculation is against the spirit of any religious ritual,” the editorial said.
It goes on to say that individuals or organisations hosting any religious function is fine, “but justifying such rituals in the name of ‘secularism’ is ridiculous”.
It also noted that all Hindu politicians incidentally use this tokenism to promote vote-bank politics.
The editorial said, “Such practices of ‘tokenism’ may help some politicians to appease some community but it definitely encourages minorityism and undermines our ethos by harping on identity politics.”
Talking about how the entire “secular brigade” geared up in the country during Ramazan to prove its credentials, the RSS mouthpiece also talked about various iftars thrown by politicians as also the President of India.
It said the “new-found common man” leadership of Delhi threw a “lavish” iftar party where Pakistan High Commissioner was among the invitees, while the party thrown by Congress President Sonia Gandhi was “more a show of opposition unity to the government than a religious function”.
The mouthpiece said the “most curious” Iftar reception was hosted by the President where everyone was interested in knowing whether the Prime Minister would be attending or not and gave a “good enough reason” to question his secular credentials after he did not attend it.
“The issue is not who attended or not attended the Iftar reception but why this one religious event becomes a symbol of ‘secular’ bonhomie and tokenism ?,” it said.
For the second straight year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Wednesday skipped the Iftar reception hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee, citing his preoccupation with a meeting with chief ministers of the North Eastern states.
Lamenting that secularism in India has become a “convenient tool to further the communal cause”, the editorial in RSS mouthpiece said the political discourse in the country has become more communal than ever since insertion of this “foreign originated” term in Preamble to Indian Constitution.
“We need to understand that equal respect for all ways of worships is there in Indian ethos and that is much bigger than the spirit of tolerance expected in European version of ‘secularism’,” it said.
Talking about the iftar reception hosted by the President, it said, former President APJ Abdul Kalam preferred to do away with the customary reception.
“Does that mean he was less ‘secular’ by any means? By doing away with a custom, did he demean the office of President?” it said.
The editorial goes on to say that Iftar is a serious religious ritual of breaking day-long fast during Ramazan by the faithful and it definitely has the message of community living and those not following Islam joining the event is incidental.