|Vol. VI, No. 17 December 31, 1956 -/8/-|
There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the attitude of the Jana Sangha towards Muslims and Christians. Congressites charge Jana Sangha with being anti-Muslim, while Hindu Sabhaites charge it with being ‘another Congress’. The truth of the matter is explained by Shri Atal Behari Bajpai, Secretary, All-India Jana Sangha, in answers in a press conference reported below.)
Can Muslims and Christians enrol in the Jana Sangh?
By all means. The doors of the Jana Sangha are open to all citizens of Bharat irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.
Are there any special conditions for Muslims and Christians entering the Jana Sangh?
No. The only condition, common to all, is belief in the Jana Sangha manifesto and acceptance of the Jana Sangha programme.
Are there Muslims in the Jana Sangha?
Yes. But they are considered Bharatiyas, not Muslims. They are not counted separately, nor are they flaunted as proof of the secularism of the Jana Sangha.
What, according to you, is the criterion of the communalism or otherwise of a party?
Its outlook. A party can be communal even with its doors open to all, while some other party can be secular even with a restricted membership. The Congress, for instance, is open to all and trumpets its secularism, and yet is not free from communalism. Very recently it has decided to give election tickets to minorities in proportion to their strength. This may perhaps get a few Muslim and Christian votes for the Congress, though that too is uncertain, but it will surely hinder the process of national integration. A person given a ticket on communal considerations will, on winning the election, naturally always think in communal terms and thus encourage communalism.
Don’t you consider Muslims and Christians to be minorities?
No. The concept of majority-minority is itself incorrect. Those who think in these terms are ignorant of the real form of Bharatiya Nationalism, and its evolution. All foreigners who came to Bharat, like the Shakas and the Huns, were so completely merged in the current of Bharatiya life that now they are unrecognizable as a separate entity. As long as we retain this wonderful capacity of assimilation our nation progressed, and will continue to progress.
Does this mean you want to convert all Muslims and Christians to Hinduism?
The answer is both yes and no. yes in the sense that we would welcome a Muslim or a Christian who wants to leave a religion forced upon his forefathers, and return to the ancestral fold. But anyone genuinely believing in Islam or Christianity as the way of salvation here and hereafter, will be given full freedom of conscience.
Do you think people of different religion can come together under a common nationality? If yes, on what basis?
On the basis of a common culture. Difference in religion does not mean difference in culture. Culture belongs to the land and the culture that has sprung from the land of Bharat is one and indivisible. It has been a meeting place for different and differing sects and theologies since Vedic times. The talk of a separate or composite culture is not only illogical but dangerous, for it undermines national solidarity and fosters fissiparous tendencies.
Do you accept Muslim and Christian contribution in the advance of Bharatiya culture?
Certainly Bharatiya culture is not like a circumscribed pond but like a flowing river. It will have all rivulets merged in it on the way. But will not change its basic course.