THE Congress Party initially refrained from raising divisive issues during the on-going election campaign in Gujarat giving the impression that it had learnt a lesson from the electoral price the party had to pay for Sonia Gandhi calling Chief Minister Narendra Modi maut ka saudagar in 2007.
That was not to be. While Sonia Gandhi was reluctant to directly attack Modi and confined her attack to vague charges, the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues couldn’t resist the temptation of playing the Muslim card hoping against hope that it might help the party remain relevant in the State. The first to break the silence was Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh by stating that “minorities and some officials” were “insecure” in the BJP-run State. His allegations are unfounded and far-fetched. There has been no communal riot or clash in the State since the 2002 communal clashes sparked-off by the heinous Godhra carnage. No part of the State had been under curfew even for an hour during the last ten years. On the other hand, there is hardly any Congress-run State that is free of communal tension and strife. Is communal peace in Gujarat – a State notorious for countless communal riots since pre-independence era – a sign of insecurity among the minorities? The Prime Minister seems to be uncomfortable with communal harmony in the State and is making untenable allegations in search of an emotive issue to harvest Muslim votes.
Gujarat Congress is unhappy with central leadership of the party raising the issue that they apprehend will boomerang and further decimate an already feeble party. If Dr Singh had in mind corrupt officials while talking about insecurity among some officials, he is right. They are indeed insecure in Modi’s zero-tolerance to corruption regime. Extremely insecure is the suspended IPS Officer Sanjeev Bhutt facing prosecution in a custodial death case. He stands exposed as a stooge conducting a malicious campaign against Modi on behalf of the Congress by fielding Shweta Bhutt – his homemaker wife – as a Congress candidate against the Chief Minister and campaigning for her even while he is still a serving officer. Shweta has made her husband “victimhood” the core issue of her campaign. People’ verdict and the huge margin with which she is expected to lose will show how hallow her sense of victimhood is.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde accused BJP of orchestrating riots is an obvious reference to the tired and unconvincing allegation argument about post-Godhra riots. This ploy of tarnishing Modi’s image had over the years miserably failed to convince people but Congress is not the one to learn any lesson. Once bitten, twice shy was not spoken of the Congress. Blaming the Hindus without an iota of remorse for the attack on pilgrims returning from Ayodhya has outraged the people. By raising this issue, Congress Party has revived memories of the role senior Congress leaders played in leading armed mobs in the 1984 massacre of innocent Sikhs in Delhi and other cities in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her security guards. Congress leaders involved in the crime were rewarded by inducting them as Cabinet ministers in the Rajiv Gandhi Government. The ruling party manipulated criminal judicial system to ensure that none of them has so far been brought to justice. And how about riots in Congress-run states like Maharashtra and Assam and the worst kind of anti-Hindu riots in UP. Are people feeling secure in these states?
In yet another crude attempt to play the Muslim card, Shinde told an election rally in Gujarat that thanks to Sonia Gandhi, “a man named Ibrahim” has been appointed Chief of Intelligence Bureau. The Home Minister’ disclosure that SA Ibrahim’s appointment was because of Congress president’s benevolence is shocking. His argument defending his statement is more so. He told newsmen that there was nothing wrong in the Party Chief taking a decision and the Prime Minister following her orders on the appointment of IB Chief. If this is true, and there is no reason to disbelieve it because no one in the Government or the party has contradicted it, the ruling party has scant regard for constitutionalism. In a parliamentary system, the ruling party has the right to ask its Government to frame policies dictated by it but has absolutely no role in appointment of officials. Home Minister’s statements have put a question mark on fairness of Ibrahim’s appointment. Was he chosen for the sensitive office on merit or because of his Muslim identity? Are officers promoted on merit or on the basis of their religious and caste identities? Is Sonia Gandhi the final arbiter on the appointment and promotion of senior officers? The Prime Minister must come clean on the subject. His silence will lend credence to rumours doing the rounds in the national capital that confidential files are taken by top bureaucrats to 10,
Janpath for clearance. Are confidential files shown to a person who doesn’t hold any office in the Government?
Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul tried to spread canards about the “plight” of farmers and “rampant corruption” in Gujarat. These canards convinced no one. Gujarat is one of the states with highest growth rate in agriculture— 11per cent in the case of Gujarat that is much higher than those in Congress run states, including Maharashtra. Sonia Gandhi’s attack on Modi Government on corruption is amusing. Vague allegations of corruption in the administration don’t wash. Widely held public perception is that Modi Government is clean and that personally the Chief Minister is incorruptible. Moreover, the dynasty has no moral right to talk about corruption in Gujarat while it is neck deep in corruption on mega scams exposed by CAG. The dynasty accuses others of corruption while it is in the line of fire on the allocation of coal blocks, grabbing of properties belonging to National Herald group of newspapers by Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra’s dubious land deals in Haryana and elsewhere. Poll results in Gujarat will show the credibility or otherwise of the dynasty-controlled Congress.