The CPI-M has sparked off a new debate with its remark that secularism cannot be protected, defended or put into operation in a proper sense unless there is a strict separation of religion from politics and government

At an event marking the 100th founding year of the Communist Party in India, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury claimed that forces like the RSS want to "take India into the darknessof the past" by changing the country's history, culture, education policy "to give a monolithic Hindu identity to India" instead of its syncretic cultural identity.

October 17 of this year is a historic day for the communist party as it marks the hundred years of the formation of the first unit of the Communist Party of India in Tashkent in the then Soviet Union.

"Secularism means the separation of religion from politics and from the state. Every individual has the right to choose his own faith and it will be the duty of the state, law to protect that right which is inviolable and the communists will always stand up to protect it." Yechury said.

"However, secularism in our constitution was interpreted as equality of all religions. The moment you say equality of all religions, it's only natural that the religion to which the majority of the population subscribe to, has a greater advantage over the others. And that has inherent dangers, which is what we are witnessing today. And unless there is a strict separation of religion from politics and government, secularism cannot be protected, defended or put into operation in a proper sense," he added.

He said the entire logic of saying "my God is better than your God" is the basis for communal polarisation and communal conflicts.

"Today we have forces like the RSS, whose political wing is the BJP, who want to take India into darkness and backwardness of the past. Lack of scientific temper, rewriting Indian history, changing India's education policy, changing India's cultural policy in the cultural institutions, all to give a monolithic Hindu identity to India instead of the syncretic identity with which all of us grew up," Yechury said.