Over 900 concerned citizens from across India, including eminent personalities from the film industry, activists and academia, issue an appeal to parties who campaigned seeking votes on basis of their secular credentials, to prevent formation of a communal central government.
The appeal quotes these party leaders claiming commitment to secularism and promising to join only a secular government. It further states that many voted for these parties on this basis, and points out that “Secularism is not just a catchword in election manifestos. It is the backbone of our democracy”, which cannot be sacrificed in horse trading.
The appeal also quotes several poignant messages sent to political parties by people from across India, asking them to protect secularism.
May 14, 2014
Appeal to all secular parties, leaders and candidates to help prevent formation of communal central government in India
We, concerned citizens of India, are alarmed by the divisive, abusive and violent Lok Sabha election campaign that has just been concluded. Throughout the campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party under Narendra Modi’s leadership has been especially virulent in ridiculing and insulting religious and sexual minorities, dalits and people with disabilities. Communal forces represented and endorsed by BJP and Modi also work against the interests and rights of cultural and linguistic minorities, adivasis and women across communities. BJP under Modi has also threatened constitutional bodies like the Election Commission. Dissenting voices have been intimidated and asked to leave the country.
The collusion of big corporates with rank communal and authoritarian ideas, visible starkly in the poll campaign, will seep into the structures of governance if a Modi-led NDA government is formed. All opponents to this brand of politics will be hounded and hunted, as they indeed have been in Gujarat. It is only reasonable to anticipate that the policies of discrimination and ghettoisation practiced by Modi’s government in Gujarat will become the national norm. Even more disturbingly, much of the mainstream media today is not only acting pliant, they are carrying a barrage of misleading facts to promote Modi, leading to legitimate fears that they may further abandon their watchdog role.
In this alarming scenario, it is imperative that you, the secular elected members of parliament ensure that the Constitution and its values, and indeed, the future of this nation, are protected. After all, secularism is not just a catchword in election manifestos. It is the backbone of our democracy.
There is nothing inevitable about the rise of Modi to Prime Ministership. The keys to formation of government in Delhi are held by all of you. We now remind some of you of the promises you have made to the people of India to stand against communalism and uphold secularism during this election campaign, which we have reproduced here. We, along with millions of citizens, voted for you because of these promises.
We appeal to you and all other secular parties to come together to ensure the formation of a secular government, and prevent the formation of a Narendra Modi-led BJP/NDA central government.
We gave you our votes. We hope you will honour our trust.
Aditi Mangaldas, Dancer
Aditya Mukherjee, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Emeritus Professor, Kolkata
Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Filmmaker
Aneesh Pradhan, Tabla Maestro
Ania Loomba, academic
Anil Sadgopal, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University, Bhopal
Anthoniraj Thumma, Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches, Hyderabad
Anusha Khan, Media Professional
Arjun Dev, Retired professor, NOIDA
Asha Mukherjee, professor, Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan, West Bengal
Atul Sood, professor of economics
Bina Sarkar Ellias, publisher/ writer, Mumbai
C. P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
DN Jha, Retd Professor
Fr Cedric Prakash SJ, human rights activist, Ahmedabad
Githa Hariharan, writer, Delhi
Geeta Kapur, art critic, Delhi
Hansal Mehta, writer-director
Harbans Mukhia, former Professor of History and Rector, JNU, National Fellow, ICHR
Jairus Banaji, academic, Mumbai
Janaki Nair, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Javed Anand, activist Mumbai
Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics
Kabir Khan, Director
Kundan Shah, Director
Lakshmi Subramaniam, academic, Kolkata
Mahesh Bhatt, director-producer
Mahesh Murthy, Adman-Entrepreneur
Maya Krishna Rao, theatre artist
Mazher Husaain, COVA, Hyderabad
Mridula Mukherjee, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Teacher, Delhi University
Prabhat Patnaik, professor of economics
Rappai Poothokaren, S.J., Ahmedabad
Robert Miranda, Bishop of Gulbarga
Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Professor of Linguistics and English
Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad
Shohini Ghosh, professor and filmmaker
Shubha Mudgal, singer-musician
Tabish Khair, writer and academic
Vijay Krishna Acharya ‘Victor’, Writer-Director
Vineet Tiwari, Gen. Secretary, MP Progressive Writers Association, Indore
Vivan Sundaram, artist
Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Lawyer, Mumbai
Zoya Hasan, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Bombay Catholic Sabha, Kalina Unit
LABIA Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
Nigah Queer Collective, Delhi
NOMOre Campaign, all-India secular campaign
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi
Women’s Initiatives (WINS), Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
And 900 voices from states and UTs across India. Please see entire list of signatories in pdf attachment.
LEADERS, IN YOUR OWN WORDS
Shri K Chandrasekhar Rao, President, Telangana Rashtra Samithi
Sir, on April 14, you made this important statement. “I am making a policy statement. TRS will not align with communal forces. We will support the Third Front. We are a 100% secular party. We will not join the NDA.”
Millions gave you their votes on this assurance. Sir, we hope you will not betray them.
Kumari Mayawati, Chairperson, Bahujan Samaj Party
Behenji, on May 4 you said “Pura desh sampradayikta ki aag mein jalne lagega agar woh (Modi) PM ban gaya” (the whole country will be in flames if Modi becomes the PM). You have not shied away from challenging Modi head on during the election campaign, calling the bluff of his ‘backward caste’ stunt in your press conference, or even calling for a ban on Amit Shah’s entry into Uttar Pradesh when he made his mischievous remarks of Azamgarh being the den of terrorists.
We sincerely urge you to continue your stand against BJP’s brand of communal politics and hateful attitude of BJP supporters towards Dalits, women and backwards.
Selvi J Jayalalitha, General Secretary, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Amma, on October 31, 2013, you told the country you are against communal politics, and that communalism has been spreading its “dangerous tentacles”, “with the sharp increase in communal tensions and religion-based politics and growth of communal forces in our body politic.”
While releasing the Vision 2023 document on February 21, 2014, you said, “I have a vision for India in which Tamil Nadu will play a key role — a vision of a resurgent India; a nation with an inclusive society… a modern, secular and prosperous India. I want to assure you all that this day is not far.”
Amma, that day has come for Tamil Nadu to play a key role in upholding a secular India.
Shri Jaganmohan Reddy, President, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party
Sir, in October 2013, you said, “I want BJP to change. I want Modi to change BJP. I want BJP to become secular… We don’t want Muzaffarnagar, we want Mohabbatnagar”. After witnessing the divisive campaign just concluded by BJP, do you think a BJP under Modi will change for the better? Are you aware that a Sangh Parivar website throws brutal communal abuse at your late father because of his faith? We quote from it: “Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy alias Yeduguri Samuel Rodriguez Reddy (1949-2009), late Christian chief minister of andhrapradesh for ongoing & last government was the most SECULAR govt. ever!… Many of his ministers are openly Christian and Muslim, and many others are secret Christians… YSR ordered that the jurisdiction of Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala Tirupati be reduced from the current seven hills to only two hills and wanted to utilize the remaining five hills to build churches.” This page on http://www.sanghparivar.org was taken down the day after voting ended in Seemandhra, but we have preserved this screenshot.
Sir, several communities in Seemandhra voted for you en bloc, in the hope that you will do everything you can to keep those filled with this kind of hatred away from the levers of power in India.
Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chairperson, All India Trinamool Congress
Didi, on May 5, 2014, you said, “Those who cause riots cannot become the leader of the nation. It is because of their comments that innocent minorities are being butchered in Assam” and ”
If a party can go to this extent without being in power, it will definitely burn the country if it comes to power. Those who will lead the country if they themselves ignite riots, then what will happen to the nation.” You have also categorically stated at your election rally at Shyambazar in north Kolkata: “We will never, ever have an alliance with the BJP.”
Didi, please abide by these words and ensure a secular government for India.
Shri M. Karunanidhi, President, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Kalaignar, when releasing the names of the DMK candidates for 35 Lok Sabha constituencies, you said that you would like to see a secular government at the centre. On April 17, your party treasurer MK Stalin reiterated this: “Our leader has emphasised that the DMK wishes for a secular government at the Centre. Following the elections such a government led by a prime minister identified by Kalaignar will form the government.”
Kalaignar, people of Tamil Nadu voted for this stated commitment of DMK to secular values. Do not betray their trust.
Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chairperson, Biju Janata Dal
Sir, in 2008 you said that “Each bone of my body is secular” and subsequently left the NDA. On April 9 2014, the eve of first phase of elections in Odisha, you said this about Narendra Modi: “he is a controversial candidate and communal shed remains which is not healthy for the country”. At the same time you said, “We will be equidistant from BJP and Congress. There is no question of joining NDA even if they do not have Modi as PM candidate.”
Sir, people of Odisha voted for you after hearing these words. You cannot go back on them after taking their votes.
Shri Nitish Kumar, leader, Janata Dal (United)
Sir, vulnerable communities and secular people all over India were moved by your gesture of supporting the candidacy of another party against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. We hope that your opposition to the politics Modi represents will continue and that you will help form a secular government in Delhi.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal, leader, Aam Aadmi Party
Sir, while campaigning in New Delhi on March 26, 2014, you proclaimed that “Communalism is a bigger problem in front of the country than corruption and it is never about people fighting each other. It is political parties who pit communities against one another for narrow electoral gains.” We commend your bold and brave campaign against Narendra Modi, and urge you to ensure that a secular government is formed.
Shri Sharad Pawar, President, Nationalist Congress Party
Sir, when campaigning at Kolhapur on April 13, you said “A Congress MP from the minority community was burnt to death in 2002 by extremists in Ahmedabad, 20 km away from Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar. However, the chief minister had shown no courtesy to meet the family of the deceased MP. It was the responsibility of chief minister to meet his family. Are we going to give power to Modi, who is ready to scare people?”
Sir, we remind you of these words during your efforts to explore government formation.
Shri Deve Gowda, National President, Janata Dal (Secular)
Sir, at your campaign speech in Mandya on April 11, you said “The voters should think whether their family members can live in peace by making Modi the prime minister.” A few days later in Hassan, you said “There must be a secular government” and that you “would oppose fundamentalists from holding reins at the Centre.”
Sir, we hope that you will stand by the word ‘secular’ included in your own party name