National Press Release – to be released across India
4 April 2016 – for immediate release
Mr Vishal Singh, President of the Swarna Bharat Party, said that India needs Constitutional nationalism, not sectarian nationalism of the kind that some saffron groups, supported by India’s ruling party, are attempting to forcefully impose on the country.
While a nation needs a narrative, a sense of history, India is perhaps the world’s oldest melting pot and has a multiplicity of such narratives. Expecting everyone to adopt a common shared history is an illusion. “Unity in diversity” is the correct language for a multitudinous nation like India.
Further, India is a constitutional republic, not a theocratic state. Our Constitution does not ask us to imagine the nation in the form of a human being, god or goddess. People are free to chant Vande Mataram or Bharat Mata ki jai if they wish, but no one has the right to mandate such slogans. Mr Singh noted that many SBP members are happy to chant such slogans, but this is a matter of their personal choice.
There is a vast difference between well-considered patriotism and rabid, divisive nationalism. SBP condemns the atmosphere of euphoric sectarian nationalism created by saffron groups in which rowdies are starting to beat up people for not chanting slogans.
In our Constitution, the individual is sovereign. SBP opposes fascist approaches that restrict individual liberty. Compulsion attacks the very basis of nationhood. Attempting to force a particular worldview upon the vast nation of India has already backfired once, leading to India’s partition. Aggressive saffron nationalism is causing new and dangerous fissures.
Mr Singh said that BJP, like all other Indian political parties, has sworn to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India. How can it justify its support for divisive saffron groups? He also wondered whether the BJP is raising the bogey of sectarian nationalism to draw attention away from its poor performance.
Mr Singh expressed regret that the liberal values underpinning our Constitution are being eroded at a time when India needs them most in order to develop into a modern nation. He noted, for example, how the Delhi High Court made unwarranted comments on nationalism recently in a bail case relating to Kanhaiya Kumar, thus losing sight of its Constitutional obligations.
SBP supports Constitutional nationalism in which patriotism is a well-considered rational response to the nation’s unrelenting commitment to reason and liberty. The intrusion of compulsion into such matters can only take weaken India. Let all flowers bloom in the great garden of India.
Notes for Editors
SBP is India’s only liberal party, committed to defending liberty and promoting prosperity.
Sanjay Sonawani (Pune), Spokesperson, +91 9860991205
Vishal Singh, President (Bengaluru), President, +91 9920613669
Madhusudhan K. (Hyderabad), Joint Secretary, +91 9885496473