New Delhi: The Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Prof Salim Engineer has voiced concern over the situation in the country. Addressing the media at the monthly press conference at the JIH headquarter, the JIH Vice President said, “We are concerned about the steady slide of our country from a constitutional democracy to an illiberal and majoritarian democracy. Numerous developments substantiate this concern. The recently concluded winter session of Parliament saw the suspension of almost the entire Opposition (46 MPs from the Rajya Sabha, and 100 MPs from the Lok Sabha) over frivolous charges. Without an Opposition, there was zero accountability on the floor of the house, and nobody to question the government’s decisions and actions. Consequently, the government was able to pass controversial new legislation like the criminal laws, the Telecommunications Act, and the appointment of the Election Commission of India. The new laws grant extraordinary powers to the executive and with the ruling party having a brute majority in Parliament, our country appears to move towards the concentration of power in the executive or the hands of a single leader, diminishing the effectiveness of constitutional checks and balances. The narrative of hyper-nationalism and populism coupled with divisive rhetoric that targets religious minorities is leading to polarization and the steady deterioration of pluralism and tolerance in society. The move towards “one nation, one language, and one culture” is turning India into an illiberal democracy and damaging our aspirations to become a world leader. Without justice and democracy in our backyard, our quest for global leadership may not materialize.”
When asked about his opinion on the inauguration of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, Prof Salim Engineer said, “The inauguration should not be politicized, patronized and used to polarize. We feel the Ram Mandir inauguration is becoming a tool for political propaganda and a means of reaping electoral dividends. The consecration program is becoming a glaring example of how religion can be misused by some politicians, a phenomenon that was consistently criticized by the ruling party but which now it is unabashedly indulging in. The inauguration of the Ram Mandir seems to have turned into a “BJP election program”. Things could have been different, had the event been truly managed by the temple trust. Politicians, bureaucrats, and elected representatives should have been told to keep away. In other words, there would be no controversy, if the inauguration had been restricted to a strictly “religious ceremony” without any political speeches, posters and slogans.”
Jamaat also voiced concern over the recent passage of the Telecom Bill 2023. The JIH Vice President said, “This legislation grants unprecedented power to the government to access every form of communication, posing a serious threat to privacy and civil liberties for the sake of commercial interests. The implications of these expanded powers granted by the Bill will lead our country to become a surveillance democracy.” Jamaat also condemned Israel’s continued assault on the Gaza Strip which has seen the killing of more than 22,000 Palestinians in two and a half months since the war began.