Updated: November 18, 2021 7:18:26 am
DAYS AFTER senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi drew a distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva and said the party should discuss such topics, the party’s Lok Sabha MP and former Union minister Manish Tewari said on Wednesday that this was an academic debate, and the Congress should, instead, discuss “how to contemporarise” and “strengthen the (party’s) core ideology and values”.
His party colleague and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, meanwhile, attacked “political Hinduism of the Hindutva movement”. Speaking at the launch of his new book, Pride, Prejudice & Punditry, Tharoor said: “These people have reduced the soaring majesty of the Vedas, of the Upanishads, the Vedanta into literally something like the team identity of the British football hooligan… Like this is my team and if you are supporting the other team, I am going to hit you on the head. That is not Hinduism. Hindutva is fundamentally the most un-Hindu set of beliefs and practices that you can imagine. And that they call themselves Hindutva which means Hindu-ness is an absolute travesty…”
In a series of tweets earlier in the day, Tewari said he was confused by the “Hinduism qua Hindutva” debate in the party. When the Congress “deviated from the Nehruvian ideal of secularism, as interpreted as separation of church and state, and moved towards Sarv Dharam Sambhav it started down a slippery slope and has not stopped skidding since,” he said, adding that a larger debate on the issue was required.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Tewari said Hinduism versus Hindutva was an academic debate, and “when you try and make this distinction for political purposes other than an academic purpose, you end up playing on somebody else’s turf.”
“If at all there should be a debate, that debate should be on how do you strengthen the core ideology and core values of the Congress party… If the INC gives up its founding values, it must never forget that people never prefer ersatz over the original,” he said.
“Notwithstanding a bloodstained Partition, the Congress, even in those days of great mayhem and great tragedy, was unshakeable and unflinching in its belief in secularism. And so, the fundamental core of the Congress cannot be anything other than the values of liberalism, pluralism and progressivism. Therefore, any debate on any other majoritarian or minoritarian ideology is alien to the Congress ethos,” he said.
On Rahul’s remarks that the party should debate topics like the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva, Tewari said: “A live political organisation must have very vigorous philosophical debates. Therefore, for academic purposes, there is absolutely no harm in debating Hinduism versus Hindutva or socialism versus capitalism or the neo liberal economic order qua the retreat of globalisation. But insofar as the Congress is concerned, the debate it should be having is how to contemporarise, if necessary, the core values on which it was founded and constituted. The politics of religion, caste or identity is not the politics of the Congress. It thrived as a rainbow and it will survive in that form only.”
Both Tewari and Tharoor argued that religion and politics should be kept separate.
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