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Diabolical duplicity

Diabolical duplicity

Author: Anuradha Dutt
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 15, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/176191/Diabolical-duplicity.html

For Congress, 1984 is no longer an issue, 2002 is

The Congress's frequent jibes at the BJP's supposedly anti-secular credentials, especially the repeated allusions to the post-Godhra violence, has reached the point of absurdity. Senior leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi and lesser luminaries grab every chance to rake up this issue in an attempt to tar the BJP black. Even the fact of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hobnobbing with Hindutva allies and shaking hands with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is being held against the former, in a throwback to untouchability.

If the Congress and its allies had their way, the BJP would be damned as a political pariah and banished into the wilderness. Such hostility derives from the fact that the BJP has broken the Congress's decades-old stranglehold over India and changed the dynamics of elections. And, it is assisted in this task by the JD(U), led by Mr Kumar, and its ilk. Mr Singh's ignorance of ground realities is evident in his parrot-like assertion that it is an obligation of all "secular" forces to back a Congress-led coalition at the Centre. He seems not to understand that elections in India are won and lost not on the issue of secularism or its repudiation but on the basis of issues that have an impact on people's daily lives. These range from price rise, unemployment, lack of civic amenities such as drinking water, schools, health clinics and electricity, remunerative prices for farm products, provincial identity and so on.

The ghost of post-Godhra violence will not be able to frighten voters enough to make them vote for a so-called secular coalition. It has no relevance to their struggle for survival, which is their primary concern. Rather, by harping on the riots, Mr Singh has betrayed his ignorance of the voters' pulse. The inference is that he and other members of the Congress's power caucus inhabit an ivory tower, far removed from the wear and tear of real life.

If, after the election results are out, the Congress can cobble together enough numbers to make a bid to form the Government, this should not be misconstrued as a vindication of secular ideals. It would simply be a triumph of real politic, and nothing else. For, Mr Singh's own secular credentials are in doubt after his reported statement that it was time to forget about the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. But sweeping under the carpet the estimated 3,000 dead victims and shattered survivors of the riots that erupted in the wake of Indira Gandhi's assassination is an impossible task. It is inhuman even to suggest such a thing. And, if the massacre of Sikhs, perpetrated by vengeful Congressmen, can be forgotten, then why should the post-Godhra violence, a reprisal for the burning alive of a group of kar sevaks in a train, not be similarly expelled from human memory?

The Congress's double standards indicate that it is bent on pursuing its old policy of divide and rule. Minorityism, the term used primarily to denote the party's kow-towing to Muslims and, to a lesser extent, other minority groups, has managed only to ghettoise the community after independence. That has not prevented communal riots during the Congress's tenure in power in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Bihar, directed against Muslims. Mr Singh needs to be reminded that the Congress Government did not challenge the order of the Faizabad District and Sessions court, passed on February 1, 1986, to open the locks of the Babri mosque. It was then trying to appease Hindus. The Central Minister for Waqf, Rajendra Kumari Bajpai, indicated the shift in stance when she advised angry Muslims "to take recourse to law and not to create disturbance". Babri Masjid Action Committee was hastily formed to combat the court directive.

Congress leaders, displaying exaggerated concern for secular ideals, seem to forget that people in glass houses should not throw stones. For, the party's track record in this respect is deplorable, beginning from pre-independence days. Its greatest failure for many people, displaced by the partition of India, was that it never did enough to prevent communalising of the polity. It was bad enough that Hindus and Muslims were polarised. Worse, the Congress deliberately played one community against the other by ensuring that Muslims were allowed to retain their personal law while Hindu laws were replaced by a modern civil code; and the majority community's demand for restoring pilgrimages and banning cow slaughter ignored. Perhaps secularism's flag-bearers can explain why these omissions occurred.


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