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Agenda of religion vs agenda for change

By Sonie Kharduit

In recent times with the fast approaching election dates innumerable texts and videos are circulated with lightning speed to stimulate and influence voter’s views along a certain agenda and it’s astonishing to witness rather sad to say that RELIGION has become the central theme in the whole process of agenda – setting for the new government.  The discourse over religion has overridden all other essential issues which can make the next government more accountable and responsive.

Mark  Twain’s famous quote ” I am quite sure now that often , very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s,” reflects the same state of mind that we exhibit now. Not to mention the division of our unified country which was cleverly designed on religious grounds by our so called superior white Christian race. The sooner we realise this dangerous mixture of religion and politics the better for human existence.

Religion is a double edged sword in itself; it can be a cohesive as well as disintegrative factor based on its applications and the ugly fact of its inherent bias cannot be denied. The fight for religious supremacy is an extension of cold war. Israel and Palestine conflict till date is the manifestation of this fact. Hence communal ideas spread like wild fire once ignited because we people breed it in every household discussion devoid of any reasoning and it’s further flamed when politics capitalises on it for the vote bank politics. This is the rotten fact that even now as citizens of this country we could not overcome and hence with every new day a new sort of extreme form of nationalism resurfaces thereby corrupting the integrity and unity of this country.

Apparently, it looks like in our current state of affairs with this upcoming election, religious agenda has hijacked the whole public discourse. The knocking of BJP has  awakened the so called Hill parties to unite against their common enemy. It’s ironic that in the past three decades of existence these indigenous parties that had failed  to even accommodate the unified tribal interest and serve together, now suddenly starts caring about peoples’ aspirations, hence it’s difficult to digest their intention.  On the other side, many of us who proclaim the secular ideology of the Congress, I suppose, realize only half of the truth. Don’t we realise that this secular image of Congress itself is the vote bank and for those who are ready to vote for the Congress because of religious considerations can be termed as communal voters which is against the spirit of the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) pledge and the constitutional provisions.

As we are all aware, politics per se is not dirty but people who run it turn it into a dirty game. Hence when people of integrity occupy those seats, the party will get cleansed.  The main drawbacks of the Indian polity is that we tend to vote for a party  rather than a person. Often even a person with criminal background also gets elected due to his association with the popular party. I believe if we want to decriminalise politics and bring in an effective government, we should start examining the candidate’s integrity and character first and overcome any religious bias and nepotism. After all, the purpose of an election in a democracy is to elect our representatives who will fulfil  the collective public interest and  not that of a particular community or religion.

Coming to the non-partisan agenda, we have plenty of issues to worry about and make our new MLAs accountable rather than breaking our heads on the name and colour of the political parties. The choking city streets,  sexual crimes against women, women’s empowerment, rural development, quantity and quality jobs for our youth, the  health sector , education- teachers legitimate demands  etc. so  why not we channelize our energy and opinion on these issues rather than committing the same selfish mistake of dividing our people on religious line and not uniting for our common objectives for the common good?  To say the least,  our own extreme religious propaganda and propagation in Meghalaya is not new; it has already divided our families, resulted in failed marriages, and fragmented the Christian community into pro Presbyterian vs pro Catholic and various other forms of YOURS and OURS syndrome promoting enmity and distrust at every step of the way.

Hence by allowing politics in our religious space we are fuelling this anger and further widening the trust and tolerance gap, ultimately opening the gate to doomsdays where humanity will be eradicated without the need for another ice-age to transform lives on this planet since people are already weaponised with communal ammunition to wipe out other souls.

It’s time for introspection and to ask ourselves what we want in the next five years rather than just enjoying the ongoing festive session ending on  February 27. Many aspirants in this race during this time will ignite the whole state on fire with inflammable speeches and ethereal promises, but then the beauty of democracy is that people are supreme. This will help us to overcome all false temptations by choosing the right person for the right job – not the party or religious background.

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