Secularism is now termed as appeasement: Chidambaram

Secularism is now termed as appeasement: Chidambaram

Kolkata, Nov 25 (PTI) Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the word secularism is being given a different twist and termed as appeasement.

The former union home minister who had also held the finance portfolio, said at a lecture on the 'Future of Democracy' at St Xavier’s University here that the word secularism is being misinterpreted.

He said, 'Appeasement word is an attempt at discrediting (the concept of secularism).” With a wry smile, he added, “If you are a non-Hindu, you are a half-citizen. If you are a Muslim, you are not a citizen.” Asserting that religion ought not figure in an election, he said, 'But today it is very much present in an election.” Religion must be based on faith, the senior Congress leader said.

Chidambaram said a political party consistently refused to nominate any candidate other than Hindus and its basic structure seems to be 'akhanda Bharat, Hindu rastra.' 'Religion seems to be the determining factor,' he said.

Observing that the country is moving towards centralisation which is an antithesis of democracy, Chidambaram said, 'We are undermining, debilitating institutions that promote democracy.' He claimed that the media, the common man, the MPs in Parliament and the top bureaucracy are living in fear now and that is also an antithesis of democracy.

Chidambaram alleged that central agencies are virtually taking control of state law and the police in many cases.

He said that many laws on concurrent subjects are now being adopted and framed by Delhi with the help of parliament.

Describing the move to roll out a uniform civil code as 'anti-democratic', Chidambaram said the idea of 'one nation, one ration card, one food habit, one language is completely undemocratic.' He said that of the 54 million inter-state migrants, only 1.4 million have got ration in cards which speaks eloquently about the 'efficacy' of the project.

The Congress leader claimed that the happenings make one describe India as an 'electoral autocracy' subverting the democratic process to only elect someone to power.

'Engineering defection and factional feud and causing collapse of elected state governments have become a pattern in the country in recent times,' he said.

A total of Rs 1760 crore in unauthorised cash was seized in ongoing polls in five states this year, he said pointing out that money has become the most determining factor.

The senior politician and lawyer alleged that in several Hindi-speaking states, there is no English class in certain schools as no English teacher is there.

'There is one language formula for Hindi-speaking states, two for Hindi-knowing states and three for other states - i.e. those from the south. 'It is affecting the education,' he added.

Chidambaram claimed that appointment of vice-chancellors in universities “by the Centre and its representatives” is another case in which states’ domain has been encroached upon as education is in the concurrent list.

To a question about the appointment of judges, he said if the government has the sole right to appoint judges as an alternative to the collegium, 'we think the present system is better'. PTI SUS NN

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