With the rise of politics in the guise of religion many sacred-spiritual women and men who are supposed to renounce this World for the ‘cause of spiritual World’ seem to engage in the issues of ‘this material’ World. We have Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Sakhshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Uma Bharati and Yogi Adiyanath, among others, who are adorning this space. While they are regarded as spiritual people, the reality is something else. It is not a pure coincidence that among those creating hate for the ‘other’ community, these holy women-men are at the forefront.

It is against this background that the Mahant of Gorakhnath Mutt, Yogi Adityanath, who is currently Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh stated, “I believe that after Independence, the biggest lie in India is the word secular... No system can be secular. Political systems can be neutral towards sects, but not secular.”

Adityanath also said that a political system can be Path (Sect) Nirpeksh not neutral to religion and criticized the present practice of secularism as an appeasement of minorities. He has been speacking a sectarian language all through. Before he became CM, he had been talking aggressively against Muslims. As soon as he became CM, he tried to break the economic back of the Muslim community by shutting down slaughter houses and meat shops.

Adityanath celebrated Diwali on a grand scale, as if the task of the state was now to organise a religious festival. Ram, Laxman and Sita characters descended in a Helicopter and were honored by the UP Chief Minister. He announced that a statue of Lord Ram will be built. All this go against the tenets of the Indian Constitution.

Adityanath is a political associate of the RSS Combine. He is not directly a member of the RSS clan, but is politically affiliated to the Hindu Mahasabha, part of the Hindutva lineage. This ideology sees India as a Hindu nation, and perceives secularism as a notion borrowed from the west. It was opposed to the freedom movement, preferring to side with British imperialism to oppose Muslim nationalism.

Muslim Nationalism and Hindu nationalism mutually targeted each other while hiding their agenda of subjugating lower castes/classes and women. When the Indian Constitution was being formulated Hindu nationalists said that there is no need for a new Constitution as India already has a glorious Constitution in the form of its Holy books, e.g. Manu Smriti. Incidentally burning of this book; was supported by the architect of the Indian Constitution B.R. Ambedkar.

After Independence, India being plural, diverse and uneven did face problems in the practice of secularism. Due to the guidance of Gandhi and Nehru, the complicated problems related to religion were well handled. On the issue of Cow slaughter and beef ban Gandhi and Nehru both opposed state intervention.. In the matters of reconstruction of Somnath temple again, both stated that the state should not build places of worship.

These and other challenges are being exploited today by communalists to criticize secular values itself; the words Pseudo secular and Sickular were coined to ridicule the values which promote pluralism and diversity. One such issue was the issue of managing the wealth pouring into temples. The Government in all its wisdom went for managing the wealth by developing mechanisms with IAS officers as part of the temple trusts. No such mechanisms was thought of for the bodies controlling churches and mosques. And is now being projected as an appeasement of minorities. The difference on the ground is that that temples receive far more donations than the other places of worship and it was deemed judicious to regulate the spending of this public wealth.

Similarly there is a criticism in the matters of Hajj subsidy; the subsidy as such is given to Air India, the sole carrier. Similarly the state stepped in to take care of the infrastructure of Kumbh congregations with the idea that such a vast assembly of people needs proper health, hygiene and transport related matters, purely the issues of this world.

A lot is made of the personal laws. The Hindu Code Bill was planned for social reforms.It was envisaged as the beginning of the process to be followed by reform among other religious communities. The response to the Hindu Code Bill was very hostile, more so from Hindu communal elements. Seeing this; the Bill was diluted, leading to the resignation of Ambedkar from the Union Cabinet. This stalled the possibility of undertaking such reforms for minority communities, as they are more vulnerable.

As communal violence started picking up, the issue of security of minority lives became the central concern of minority communities and the process of reform among them was put on hold, to the detriment of women of these communities. Flashes of a welcome demand for reforms among these communities have come from the women of religious minorities. Most males of the minority community stand opposed to such reforms for their own vested interests, while the women here face a dual threat. One from communal threat and violence of which they are the major victims. And alongside the impact of this violence on gender justice. Yet the women continue to struggle for reforms. The likes of Adityanath, steeped in Hindu nationalism, are unmindful of the need for ensuring the security of minorities; and instead label this as appeasement and call secularism a lie.