Tag Archive for NOMOre campaign

Appeal to secular parties: Honour our vote, support a secular government

Modi- against- democracy

Indian citizens ask secular parties and candidates to keep their campaign promises and prevent the formation of a communal government at the centre

By Team FI
Indian citizens, individuals from all walks of life and from varied organizations have asked secular candidates and their parties to keep their word given during the campaign to prevent communal forces from forming a central government in India.

The appeal stated that 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.” It reminds the secular candidates of the speeches given by them on various occasions wherein they had promised the citizens to uphold secularism and stand against communalism.

It informs the candidates that it is in their hands to form a secular government against NDA alliance. The appeal states that the citizens had voted for these candidates and hoped that they would honour the trust put in them by millions of citizens in India.

The appeal contains quotes of candidates stating their secular position from speeches made by K Chandrasekhar Rao, President, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Mayawati, Chairperson, Bahujan Samaj Party, Selvi J Jayalalitha, General Secretary, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Jaganmohan Reddy, National President, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party, Mamata Banerjee, Chairperson, All India Trinamool Congress, M. Karunanidhi, President, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Naveen Patnaik, Chairperson, Biju Janata Dal, Nitish Kumar, leader, Janata Dal (United), Arvind Kejriwal, leader, Aam Aadmi Party, Sharad Pawar, President, Nationalist Congress Party and Deve Gowda, National President, Janata Dal (Secular).

The petition is collecting signatures till the night of May 13, and will be released to media and published on social media platforms on May 14. Those who wish to endorse the appeal can go here
or

https://www.facebook.com/CampaignNOMOre

Full text of the appeal:
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. 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. 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.

This petition is also supported by non-voting citizens and NRIs, other PIOs and Overseas Citizens of India and tens of thousands of others interested in India’s democracy, secularism, human rights and the welfare of all Indian residents and social justice.

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, National 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 must live up to them.

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.

Secular forces support Mumbai college principal against Hindutva attack

Frazer-Mascarenhas

Educationists and activists issue letter in support of St. Xavier principal, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, following the BJP attack on him for writing a letter to his students advising them to vote wisely

By Team FI

Ever since Father Frazer Mascarenhas, the principle of Mumbai’s prestigious St Xavier’s College wrote a letter to his students advising them to vote wisely, he has come under attack from Hindu right wing facing threats and verbal abuse.

Father Mascarenhas has not directly named any individual or political party in his letter. He requested his students to” choose well” and exercise a “reasoned choice of individuals and political parties who promise to work for a real quality of life”. The letter speaks about the poor human development indicators in Gujarat, including education and rights of the tribals. The letter which had appeared on the college website and was subsequently forced to be taken down, spoke about the imminent threat that faces India’s secular fabric, “The prospect of an alliance of corporate capital and communal forces coming to power constitutes a real threat to the future of our secular democracy”.

The BJP filed a complaint with the Election commission charging that the college has violated the code of conduct. Following the controversy, several academicians and activists came in forward supporting Father Mascarenhas’s right to free speech.

FeministsIndia is reproducing the full text of the letter issued by the NOMOre Campaign, a non-funded, non-party affiliated secular platform and endorsed by several academicians, activists and feminists in the country as statement of solidarity.

Dear Father,
In these troubling times, when the mightiest are being bought over, lured, seduced, or silenced, we salute you for your courage and moral clarity in asking your students to choose wisely. By drawing the attention of your students (who would have voted for the first time) to the seamy underbelly of a ‘model’ that is being promoted unabashedly by the corporate media as the panacea of all that which ails India, we believe you acted responsibly and ethically. The purpose of education is to inculcate critical thinking, to provide tools of analysis, and to make students sensitive to social realities – no matter how unpleasant they may be. Far from abusing your position, as the BJP is alleging, we think that your advice is the appropriate way for a teacher, and head of an academic institution, to act.

There is reason, the BJP and its allies, ought to know, why educational institutions, despite being funded fully or partially by the government, are autonomous. This autonomy protects the right of the academic to critique the government, leaders and policies without fear. By rushing to the EC, the BJP has made a frontal attack on this intellectual freedom which is constitutionally guaranteed. Besides, this is very obviously a legally dishonest move: the code of conduct applies only to political parties and not to private individuals or social groups. Surely a party which is pretending to have already formed the government should know this simple rule.

We are amused to read in the papers that local BJP leaders have said that “we are ready to engage with the students in an open debate. But the Principal should have withheld his views till such debate.” This comes only a day after BJP cadres assaulted political opponents on a live TV broadcast from Benares. So much for open debate!

Your letter has prompted many mainstream media houses to question the propriety of a college principal in writing a letter to students on the eve of polling. We also believe that institutional spaces, while retaining the right to be fiercely critical, should remain non-partisan. Those who are quick to condemn and pillory you however conveniently ignore that you only presented a critique – that incidentally many democratic minded citizens share – without recommending any political party.

Moreover, no questions have been raised about the way in which educational institutions have been used systematically over the last year or so, to build the Supreme Leader’s image among the youth. All TV channels broadcast Modi’s Sri Ram Memorial Oration at Sri Ram College of Commerce (DU) live last year; newspapers carried full-page ads of the SRM University’s convocation ceremony where Modi was the chief guest. Similarly, no channel is aghast at Modi’s plans to take chopper tours of BHU and Kashi Vidyapeeth. This hypocrisy is nauseating.

In an election marked by hyperbole, arrogance, threats and insinuations, your letter, written with remarkable restraint and sagacity will remain an important intervention. NOMOre stands with you wholeheartedly and extends to you our sincerest solidarity.

Issued by NOMOre Campaign, a non-funded, non-party affiliated secular platform. We do not endorse any political party.

Endorsed by academics, activists and educationists across India.