Whose Side Is Congress On?

Whose Side Is Congress On?Sonia and Rahul Gandhi during a meeting of All India Congress Committee in New Delhi. (Naveen Jora/India Today Group/GettyImages) 
Snapshot
  • The actions of Congress politicians under the famed trinity of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel seem to mark a distinct break from the party’s past.

    Their actions and reactions on issues of national importance appear to reflect a sinister, disturbing pattern.

In the age of social media and in general an abundance of information, excessive focus on short-term events is natural. Events and the reactions they elicit are short-lived, and fade from public memory in hours or days. However, if one pauses to reflect on a slightly longer timeframe, often irrefutable patterns emerge, and intentions of various actors become clear.

This is what I did over the past few days. I looked at the behaviours of the leaders of the Congress, their statements, their actions and their reactions on the issues of national security over the past decade or so. A disturbing pattern emerges, the details of which I will get to later.

Also, the pattern is specifically regarding the current Congress party under the famed trinity of Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel and Rahul Gandhi, and not about how it has behaved historically. Despite several disagreements, I would have no doubts about the broader intentions of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and, of course, P V Narsimha Rao. It is the actions of the Congress politicians under the famed trinity that raises disconcerting questions about the broader sinister motives at play.

The Rafale Deal

In the summer of 1996, the Indian Express broke a story of how the Indian government signed a deal with Russia for Sukhoi-30 aircraft with several procedural lapses. The underlying insinuation was that Narasimha Rao was in a hurry to embezzle funds via defence deals for the upcoming elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the primary opposition could not have hoped for a juicier story running up to the campaign - a defence scam worth hundreds of crores. But then, sane politicians do not compromise the interests of the country for narrow political gains.

As Shekhar Gupta narrates, he saw Vajpayee over breakfast the next day and asked if he saw a scam there. Vajpayee said, “if it is a good plane, an unsubstantiated talk of a scam should not scuttle the deal”. Rest as they say, is history. Sukhoi-30 remains the Indian Air Force’s best possession till date. (In all fairness, credit must go to Jaswant Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav too as Gupta writes in his story.)

But now is a time for an upgrade. This time, in Rafale, there is not even a procedural lapse. There is not an iota of evidence indicating a scam. And yet, Rahul Gandhi and his acolytes are attempting to halt or delay the purchase.

One wonders, what do they want?

The Surgical Strikes

On 18 September 2016, a fidayeen attack by terrorists butchered 19 Indian soldiers. Such a gruesome attack needed retaliation, and the Indian armed forces did give it back, in style. On 29 September, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against Pakistani terrorists and security forces inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. No Indian Army man was harmed in the process.

A responsible political group would have been proud of the valour of the forces. But not the Congress party. Anand Sharma, a senior Congress minister, asked the government to put forth credible evidence to “expose” Pakistan. The gall of Sharma was such that he went on to say that the Congress party had no doubts that the army’s claim was correct. But, he was demanding “credible” evidence to prevent Pakistan from misleading people. I wonder who was being misled by the account of the Pakistan government, besides some Pakistanis!

Yet again, one wonders on whose side was the Congress party?

26/11, RSS Conspiracy

The 26/11 attacks on Mumbai shook the country like never before. Had Ajmal Kasab not been caught alive, the sinister plot was not only to wreak havoc but also to pass off the terrorists as Hindus fueling the imaginary “Hindu terror” narrative. It is no secret that the Congress party was creating this narrative from early 2008 by falsely implicating the likes of Col Purohit in bomb blast cases. But all these efforts were undone by the bravery of an assistant sub-inspector, Tukaram Omble. Omble caught Kasab alive, and with that the entire plan of painting 26/11 as an act of “Hindu terror” went bust.

Even in the face of glaring evidence, there were some actors who continued with the insinuation and assertion that Kasab was planted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) . One was Zaid Hamid, a Pakistani political commentator who said that Kasab’s actual name was Amar Singh and that the orange wrist band Kasab wore was linked to the RSS, and the goal was to eliminate security personnel investigating Hindu terror.

One should trust Pakistan to float this theory, and some sections of the media to carry it. But one would be surprised if this got some endorsement from the Congress party. Unfortunately, it did.

Digvijay Singh released a book by one Aziz Burney titled, “26/11 RSS ki Saazish”. Not once but twice. Once in Delhi and again in Mumbai. Not only did he release the book, he went on to say that Hemant Karkare, the police officer martyred in the attacks, had called Singh two hours before the attacks and said that his life was in danger from Hindu extremists whose role he was investigating in the Malegaon blasts.

If this is not a ringing endorsement of where the Congress leadership stands, I wonder what is.

Inhe hatao aur hamein laao

Conventional wisdom in politics dictates that your dirty linen should not be washed on foreign soil. But then, the Congress party and its elite leadership is not used to staring at the prospect of being out of power for long.

In 2015 the desperation in the Congress quarters was extremely high after a series of major electoral defeats. And this frustration and desperation came out very clearly in a televised discussion that the Congress old timer, Mani Shankar Aiyar was part of on a Pakistani TV channel.

In this discussion, Mani Shankar Aiyar suggested to a group of Pakistanis that they should remove Narendra Modi. Little surprised by the suggestion, the anchor told Mr Aiyar that only he (Indians) could remove Modi. Perhaps, realising the gravity of what he had uttered, Aiyar deflected it by saying that he would, but the Pakistanis would have to wait till such a time.

To put things in perspective, US President Donald Trump may even be impeached for a possible collusion with a foreign power (Russia) in the 2016 election. And here, a senior leader of the Congress party openly sought help from Pakistan in removing Modi!

And again, one must ask, what does the Congress leadership want?

Batla House Encounter

In September 2008, after a series of bomb blasts in Delhi, the Delhi Police raided an apartment which, based on information from its sources, was believed to have been a hideout of Indian Mujahideen terrorists. The raid was led by an encounter specialist police officer Mohan Chand Sharma.

The police tried to storm the flat in the morning, leading to a heavy exchange of fire between the police and the “innocent civilians” inside. Two suspects were killed, two arrested and one managed to escape. The usual suspects floated their theories of fake encounters targeting innocent Muslims. While the theories have been laid to rest, the plan of creating suspicion in the minds of general public has been reasonably well-executed by some ‘investigative journalists’.

It was not just journalists who took this line, but unfortunately the Congress politicians also spoke the same language.

According to Salman Khurshid, Sonia Gandhi wept after looking at the pictures of the innocent victims of the Batla house encounter. Since the media interaction with Sonia Gandhi is limited to ‘tough’ questions like what she likes to have for dinner, we will never know the truth on this one from her. But, that Khurshid would fabricate such a story seems rather unlikely.

Being charitable, we can surmise that the humanist in Sonia Gandhi wept at the death of young people who fell prey to a violent ideology.

These incidents present a sombre picture. The current Congress party, led by the trinity of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel, marks a distinct break from its past. In the past, Congress acted with short-term interests but, when push came to shove, they did not side with the terrorists, which quite dangerously seem to be the trend now.

Yet, I choose not to end on a gloomy outlook. As V S Naipaul observed in his classic, India: A Million Mutinies Now, India is being remade and many of its conflicts like the Khalistan movement of the 1980s, the Naxal insurgency, the movements in the south, are mutinies supported by sectarian, religious, regional group excesses. But, beyond these mutinies, there was in India, a national idea that was more coherent. As he put it, “…many of these movements of excess strengthened the Indian state, defining it as the source of law and civility and reasonableness”.

To exist is to suffer. So, why must a country that is being remade after centuries of suffering, have it easy? Perhaps, the wise people of our country will choose to stand by those who stand with humanity, and not terrorism. Let us be optimistic and spread the message.

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