"If the chief party, whether it be people, or the army, or the nobility, which you think most useful and of most consequence to you for the conservation of your dignity, be corrupt, you must follow their humour and indulge them, and in that case honesty and virtue are pernicious." - Machiavelli Communal forces have always had a say in the policies framed by successive Indian governments, particularly in its relations with Pakistan. Although the Indian leadership has often claimed that it believes in secular values, yet those who try to expose the true face of the administration are labelled as separatists or self-seekers. Moreover, despite the claims made by successive governments, a fierce debate has recently erupted in India where the Congress Party has accused the opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, of orchestrating extremism and patronising Hindu zealots in an effort to grab power in the country. The recent exposure of mega corruption scams in India has provided a golden opportunity to the extremist forces to ensure that they climb to power. For example, the Commonwealth Games corruption scandal and the 2G scam have shaken the foundations of India, and the weak coalition government led by Dr Manmohan Singh has not been able to satisfy the people by initiating swift rectifying measures. Seizing the opportunity people like Kisan Baburao Hazare, popularly known as Anna Hazare, and Baba Ramdev proceeded on hunger strike ostensibly trying to force the government to take strong measures against corruption in India. Both these individuals are front men of the extremist Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh, or RSS. This crusade against corruption has been declared by such organisations, especially the RSS that is a front of the BJP, which had mobilised political support for Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. This has forced the Congress Party to react strongly. But, at the same time, has exposed the true face of 'Shining India when several senior Congress leaders severely criticised both the BJP and RSS of trying to subvert democracy. The BJP, on the other hand, continues its relentless campaign against the Congress Party by patronising members of the civil society and politicians like Chief Minister Narindar Modi, who planned and executed the massacre of nearly 2,000 Muslims in Gujrat. In another significant move, the BJP has decided to take back Ms Uma Bharti, a firebrand Hindu extremist who played a vital role in the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. She had been expelled from the party after the tragic incident due to her anti-Muslim rhetoric. Hence, this shows that once again the extremists forces (i.e. the saffron brigade) are slowly, but successfully entering into the political arena. Despite this, the Congress led government leaves no opportunity to malign Pakistan and its establishment and accuse it for plotting terrorist attacks in India. Nevertheless, the Indian psyche can be measured from their reaction when a Chicago court exonerated the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, in the terrorist attack that took place in Mumbai. Since then the Indian government, the opposition parties and the media have been agitating and calling the verdict of the American judicial system as a deal between Islamabad and Washington. The Hindu extremist forces have also been clamouring that the leadership in New Delhi should apply in a New York court where another terrorist trial is in progress, so that it may become possible for India to malign Pakistan and its security agencies. However, it will be better if the Indian administration heed to the demands of the people not only in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, but also the Sikhs and the Naxalites who have been since years demanding freedom from the occupation of its army. But this does not mean that the BJP is wrong when they extended political support to Anna Hazare, who is demanding for the approval a Jan Lokpal Bill (also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill), which will lay down the procedures to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without prior government permission. Here, it would be pertinent to point out that the Indian government has released the names of 18 people, who have billions of dollars stashed in their personal accounts in certain offshore banking systems where the money is siphoned off due to rampant corrupt practices in India. However, some of the accused have claimed that they dont own the money. One of them has also claimed that the money belonged to a 'big gun, which perhaps means that it owned by the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, that is probably using it secretly to support and finance insurgency in Pakistan, besides suppressing the minorities in India. Indeed, all these revelations have badly smeared the face of the Indian leadership and dealt a severe blow to the Indian claims of being a secular state. Nonetheless, New Delhi had a point when it challenged these so-called crusaders against corruption, who have nominated themselves to be the leaders of the people. The Congress maintains that the proper forum to enact laws against corruption and other problems faced by the Indian political system is Parliament. And that the recourse taken by certain political parties by referring such issues to the judiciary will create serious problems for the state. For example, Anna Hazare demanded that the Prime Minister should be answerable in case any one member of his Cabinet is found guilty of corruption charges or indulged in money laundering. This is a classic example where one man should suffer for another man's sins. Likewise, there are several instances in Pakistan where the government has been blamed and taken to task for the sins of a particular individual. It is, however, important to remember that such precedents can lead to a dangerous situation where one state institution may be seen in confrontation with the other. In India, the situation is certainly no better. On at least two occasions, the otherwise soft spoken PM Manmohan Singh has come out to assert the powers of the executive by declaring that encroachment on policy decisions, or other matters that pertain with the executive, will not be allowed to erode in any circumstances. While these debates continue in both India and Pakistan, the main question is: Whether after a series of events will it be possible for India to safeguard its image as a secular country, or will it degenerate into a country that is dominated by the people, who want to punish and victimise the minorities? n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com