New Delhi: The row over the Congress party’s alleged toolkit to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi and draw political mileage from the second wave Covid19 crisis is far from over. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking among other things de-recognition of the Congress party by the Election Commission if the charges are found to be true.
“I have moved a Public Interest Litigation before the Supreme Court seeking an investigation of the toolkit by NIA, to get guidelines by the Govt of India against hoardings and other anti-national acts and seeking suspension of membership of Congress if the allegations are true,” tweeted lawyer Shashank Shekhar Jha.
He also made the Union of India and Election Commission as ‘respondents’ and the Congress a party to the petition before the Court.
Of course, this is also an occasion to reflect on the Congress party’s approach to ‘entire politics’ during challenging times before the country.
In the words of the then US envoy to India, David Muford, the Congress party had given “credence” to the conspiracy angle to the 26/11 terror strike vis-a-vis Hindu-Muslim divide as propounded by its controversial Minister A R Antulay. “The entire episode (the manner Congress used 26/11 and gave a twist) demonstrates that the Congress party will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest,” Mulford had written in his dispatch as was later claimed in Wikileaks revelation.
In 2009, when BJP lost the elections, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was candid enough to admit: “The Mumbai terror effect helped the Congress indirectly. We didn’t want to criticise the government because it would have seemed that we were playing Pakistan’s game. This benefited the UPA government.”
Take the clock further back.
During the Kandahar hijack of 1999-2000 and in subsequent periods, the Congress stance was more to garner political benefits. Jaswant Singh, the then External Affairs Minister, was a pained man in the manner the opposition parties and chiefly the Congress leaders had responded to a national crisis.
“They promised they are or were with the government decision and then backed out,” Singh, now deceased, would say later. He also wrote in a book: “I am ashamed even as I recollect how – initially perhaps spontaneously but thereafter as part of some sponsored embarrassment to the government – gangs of political activists were persuaded to block roads, interrupt press briefings and, to my mind and memory, so shamingly roll on the roads as if in a kind of collective hysteria”.
“I still don’t know what they were demonstrating by this undignified and demeaning behaviour. But it certainly did succeed in shaming India, in the eyes of the international community,” he has said.
Here too, the government was put on defensive as television media repeatedly showed relatives of hostages staging demonstration and participating in chest-beating demonstrations raising anti-Vajpayee government slogans. Some of them had even stormed into the hall where Jaswant Singh was once addressing the media.
On 2008 Mumbai misadventure by Pakistan, the US ambassador had written in his dispatch -“The Congress Party, after first distancing itself from the comments (of Antulay, the then minority affairs minister), two days later issued a contradictory statement which implicitly endorsed the conspiracy. During this time, Antulay’s completely unsubstantiated claims gained support in … Indian-Muslim community” in his secret cable to the state department on December 23, 2008.
“Hoping to foster that support for upcoming national elections, the Congress Party cynically pulled back from its original dismissal and lent credence to the conspiracy,” he wrote further adding, “The entire episode demonstrates that the Congress Party will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest”.
Of course, the Congress party had dismissed the Wikileaks revelation. But David Mulford in subsequent period did not comment much on the content of his missive but merely had said that the diplomatic cables are “generally accurate”.
It is also worth recall that on 26 November 2008, 10 terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit entered Mumbai via the sea route and carried out a coordinated attack on numerous locations in the country’s commercial capital. In fact, ‘live telecast’ of the movement of NSG personnel had led to the killing of one commando, reports later said.