Abp Leo Cornelio SVD
First of all, be responsible in voting. This time around, voting has come in holiday time. Under whatever circumstance, we should really make an effort to vote. You are responsible to choose the leaders and the party who are people oriented, are not communal minded, seek the good of the country, and are not selfish or corrupt. We face too much corruption. We need leaders with a wider global outlook, not people who are narrow-minded. We need leaders who consider people of all religions as equal citizens. Openness and education are required of them.
In an election, there are two choices made; firstly, I vote for a party, secondly, I vote for a candidate. Which is more important?
I would say the individual matters more, because she or he makes a party good or bad. Party ultimately goes by an individual’s mindset and orientation. The party is influenced by people. Right thinking people will change a party’s ideology for the better. All parties have certain ideology, but that ideology can change according to the persons who come into power.
The Hindutva party has a different ideology and outlook for India; it believes in one religion and one culture. Do you see it as a threat to the constitution of India?
Certainly! It is actually a very big threat. The Hindutva party is a very extremist group. Hindus are tolerant and Hinduism is rightly religious. But Hindutva is a kind of extremist group that can be detrimental to the country.
Do you think that a large number of Hindus have succumbed to the Hindutva ideology?
An emotional appeal to Hindutva ideology is visible. A kind of radical religious sentiment has been created, and those who cannot think and distinguish right from wrong are oriented towards this kind of attitude and ideology. They are polarizing people saying that minorities are dangerous, particularly the Muslim community. They are seen as threats for the security and integrity of the country. We have many religions. Religion can very well be used to unite the country, which never happens. For a long time, no country has survived only on the basis of a religion. There are other values than those that religion can provide. Extremism or wrong orientation is dangerous in every way. Many people think that religion divides. Religion does not necessarily divide, but often it does, because people use religion for their own purposes. Religion becomes dangerous when people use it to achieve their own end.
From where does the Hindutva movement get its inspiration, Indian religion or Indian culture?
The Hindutva movement was actually started by an extremist, Golwalkar. The RSS ideology has crept into the people and infused in them the ideology of one nation, one religion and one culture. That led even to the killing of Mahatma Gandhi. He was tolerant, which was not acceptable to them. They want only one religion, and they formed an ideology that would suit at aim.
The Hindu Maha Sabha existed at the time of two world wars, which pitted the American and the British against the Nazis. The members of the Hindu Maha Sabha sided with the Nazis. Don’t you think they were inspired by Fascism?
We can find some similarities like the ‘Swastika’ between the two. It was Hitler’s fascist ideology that influenced Germans to think that they are a superior race. That led to the Holocaust, which was aimed at exterminating the Jewish people. Actually, Hitler is in some way a model for Hindutva followers. They show certain kind of affinity and similarity to Hitler and his ideology.