Skip to main content

Fake secularism? Vajpayee's anti-conversion logic and MP govt's 'love jihad' move

Counterview Desk

Harvard-educated policy analyst Mohan Guruswamy, who was finance minister Yashwant Sinha’s adviser in late 1990s, and then perceived as close to then Union home minister LK Advani, in a Facebook post has revealed how the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee wanted “all conversions to be registered by district Collectors or magistrates after application through proper channels.”
Calling conversions the “centrepiece” logic behind a “love jihad” law, planned to be enacted in Madhya Pradesh, Guruswamy claims, Advani agreed with his view that any effort to put obstacle in changing one’s religion went against “all notions of personal freedoms like speech, belief and worship.”

Text:

The declaration by the MP Home Minister to enact a law to ban "love jihad" marriages reminds me of an episode going back to 1998. The centerpiece of its logic is conversion. The sanghis believe that romance is a part of jihad to convert a Hindu woman or sometimes into a Muslim.
I was coopted by LK Advani, then BJP president, to write the NDA manifesto. The manifesto committee consisted of leaders like Vajpayee, Jaswant Singh, Fernandes, Venkiah, Mahajan, Sharad Yadav and some others. I had drafted most of the manifesto including the economics section, that promised greater loosening of FDI controls and SEZs. It also promised higher appropriations for health and education. There wasn't much discussion on these.
But Vajpayee had two submissions. One was India must go nuclear, reminding me of Krishna Kant, former VP, whose only contribution to any discussion was, "Hamko atom bomb banana chahiye!" Everybody seemed fine with this but agreed that this item must be couched in very ambiguous terms. Some mention was made about how Narasimha Rao's plan to test was scuttled after the US uncovered his plans. It was believed that a very high ranking defence scientist was behind the leak. I was tasked with writing this. This particular task had some consequences which I will hold for later.  
Mohan Guruswamy
The other Vajpayee item was more interesting. He wanted all conversions to be registered by District Collectors or Magistrates after application through proper channels. I was sitting next to Advani and whispered into his ear that this was absolute nonsense. 
Advani was at that time attempting to make a transformation from Hindu nationalist into a social and economic conservative. He had recently read a couple of books by Amartya Sen and was very impressed by them. I told him it offends all notions of personal freedoms like speech, belief and worship. Advani then asked me to speak up.
When I gave my spiel on freedoms and that a state cannot be given the power to approve or sanction them because these freedoms were inherent. Vajpayee reacted angrily to this. He pointedly asked me if conversion was to be treated so lightly? I somewhat cheekily remarked that politicians changed their political beliefs all the time, so why was religion different. 
Advani saved me from Vajpayee’s wrath by saying he supported my contention and that basic freedoms would be infringed by having this. Vajpayee then laughingly went along by telling me, "Tum Harvard walon sey bach key rahna padega?"
Not long after Vajpayee became PM he raised this issue again publicly and wanted it to be debated. "Iss pey ek bahas honi chahiye!" Of course, there was no “bahas”. But the Australian missionary Dr Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt alive in their station wagon soon after.
So I decided to give him a bahas. I was the FMs advisor and technically part of government. But I nevertheless wrote a piece on conversion in the Indian Express titled "A Thousand Years of Shame" (“One Thousand Years of Shame”, February 3, 1999) in which I shredded the arguments against conversion. The PM didn't respond but saw to it that my position in government became untenable. So much for the humbug about Vajpayee’s secularism.

Comments

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.