Disturbing debate on Rahul Gandhi’s Hindu-ness

India’s top national parties are reducing the importance of being Indian
By Robin David – You are not a Christian or a Parsi or a Muslim or a Jew. You are a non-Hindu.

Given the manner in which both parties are fighting over the issue, it seems that the ‘Hindu’ is an exclusive club for the privileged. To become a member, you have to meet the stiff criteria set by the club management and be ready for a rejection.

By questioning Rahul’s Hindu identity, the BJP has challenged his membership to the club and asked him to establish his credentials. Although BJP leaders haven’t said it in as many words, the implicit message is that Rahul does not deserve to ask for the votes of Hindus in Gujarat because his Hindu credentials are questionable.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra even demanded that Rahul “must say who he actually is”.

Congress, on the other hand, released Rahul’s photograph with a janeu to establish that he is a ‘janeu-dhari Hindu’. By putting the spotlight on his janeu, the Gandhi scion seems to be saying that he is more Hindu than most Hindus. He has also put on the backseat the identity of being an Indian.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this entire debate is the normalization of the idea that being a Hindu is the primary identity one is expected to have to make an impact in an election in this country.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Rahul is in fact a Christian. Does he in any way become less eligible to ask for votes from Indians who live in Gujarat? One would like to believe that 70 years after Independence, one’s Indian identity matters more than one’s religious identity in an election.

But going by this debate, it does not seem so. more>

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