Don’t Call Yourself Secular, Identify by Religion or Caste Instead: BJP Minister Anantkumar Hegde

“We are here to change the constitution.”

Union minister Anantkumar Hegde. Credit: Facebook

Union minister Anantkumar Hegde. Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: Anantkumar Hegde on Sunday (December 24) ruffled quite a few feathers by saying that he wants people to identify themselves by their caste or religion, instead of saying that they are secular. The Union Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development reportedly said that those who claimed they were secular “do not have an identity of their parents and their blood”, adding that it was time to amend the constitution.

According to The Hindu, Hegde, who was speaking at an event in the Koppal district of Karnataka, said: “I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.”

The minister, who was just a few months back handed the skills development portfolio in the Modi cabinet, said that Manusmriti had become outdated and in the present times, ‘Ambedkar Smriti’ was being talked about instead. “We respect the constitution and it has changed over time, several times; and it will change in the future. We are here to change the constitution,” he said

The minister was further quoted by The Hindu as saying: “Progressive thinkers do not know about history, tradition and culture. Those who themselves have erred are trying to blame others for their mistakes.”

According to The News Minute, Hegde drew flak from all quarters for his comments including from opposition leaders and groups of progressive thinkers in varied parts of Karnataka. Members of Students’ Federation of India even staged a protest against the minister’s comments.

The state chief minister Siddaramaiah also slammed Hegde’s dig at secularists, saying that the Union minister did not respect the constitution. “I do not want to stoop to his level. We know our language and culture. He is a Union minister, but spits venom.”

This, however, is not the first time that the BJP leader has kicked up a storm with his comments. In October, Hegde had asked not to be invited to the state government’s “shameful” Tipu Sultan Jayanti event. In a tweet, he had referred to the event as one aimed at “glorifying a person known as brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist.” Days later he further said that if the state government could celebrate Tipu Jayanti, people would soon start celebrating “Ajmal Kasab Jayanti”.

Hegde, who has been a member the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Moracha, has also previously been booked for hate speech for making derogatory remarks against Islam. In March 2016, he was quoted as saying that “as long as there is Islam in this world, there will be terrorism”.

  • Jagdish Chander

    I want to know from Mr. Hegde that Tipu Sultan ruled Karnataka till Britishers took over. If Tipu Sultan was was against Hindus and brutally killed Hindus in that case the Hindu population should have vanished. How it is that now Hindu population in Karnataka is 84% and Muslims are only 13% of total of about 6.5 crores. Hindus are about 7 times more in population than Muslims. How can the population of religion of the ruler remained seven times less then the religion of the ruled population. I think the Wire should invite historian scholars to through light on this aspect.

    • GR Mishra

      Forceful conversions and other similar non-issues are raised by the BJP just to fool people. People are fooled somehow. India is a Hindu majority by far. Minorities are more at threat than the majority. In any case, any such illegal conversions should be punished under law, not by goondas. BJP has conveniently forgotten (and the people are also forgetting somehow) that our nation has grown tremendously under the Congress over the past 60 years. We could have done much better, but what has BJP done over the past 3 years? BJP / RSS is trying to change history to appear meaningful. However, looking further back, BJP has played the part of a decent opposition to keep Congress in check. Also, I think Atalji did a great thing by making India a nuclear power. Leaders like Atalji are required. We need to focus on development on the ground so that the economic disparity is reduced. Not just Modi / Shah’s show baaji and event management. Why raise the issue of secularism at all? Why look centuries back? We cannot change history. We should focus to change the future of the country for the better.

  • GR Mishra

    This shows the true, visionless face of BJP. They want to grab power at any cost. Polarisation is not taboo, in fact, it is preferred before any election. The corrupt suddenly become clean if they join the BJP. Lies can be told. All offices and officers can be insulted. Demeaning is done to increase one’s relative stature (Modi is a master at this). Event management (show baaji) is the key to success. The shadow government of RSS is creating new issues which are irrelevant in today’s globalised world. As a nation, we have never suffered any identity crisis. So why worry so much about nationalism and individual identity? And, what makes RSS / BJP, who have hardly governed the country, more experienced at knowing what India is? Essentially, BJP / RSS want to amend the constitution to declare all dissent as anti-national. Their lack of vision is evident from their ‘congress-mukt’ chants. A democracy needs opposition, and the rulers can always learn from them. Opposition keeps rulers in check. Secularism is NOT a problem for our great nation. Poverty is, lack of basic facilities is. Work on that. All of us should be aware of the grave danger that BJP / RSS has become. Those supporting the BJP are either polarised, fooled or paid. Remember, the sectarian strife does not end with religion. See the Islamic nations. There is tremendous bloodshed within the Islamic world (e.g. Shias vs Sunnis). So, if the constitution is amended and India becomes Hindu, the intra-Hindu strife will begin. Speaking at a Brahmin forum, this power-hungry Modi sycophant Hedge is setting the stage for this strife. He is just floating the idea to see the response of the masses. Why can’t BJP simply focus on actual development to do some good for the economy. Modi’s ego is increasing with each win. He has accomplished nothing on any front, instead he has created problems. We should objectively hold all the politicians accountable. All they want is power and seats ( 360, 150, we are just numbers). I pray for my great nation which I love so dearly. To me, MODI (Master Of Deceiving Indians), has become a real danger. We should raise our voice against Hedge’s comments immediately so that such destructive ideas are never floated again.

  • Jammi N Rao

    This fellow needs to read his own Party’s Constitution, Page 1 will do.