Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Rahul on terrorism" - by Tavleen Singh


Tavleen Singh

Posted online: Sun Dec 19 2010, 04:15 hrs

You cannot be a political columnist in India today and ignore the man who could be our prime minister tomorrow if he wants. But, for those of us obliged to pay careful attention to Rahul Gandhi's political career, one big problem is that he seems never to have any views on anything. He spends long nights in remote villages but returns with no insights on improving rural living conditions. He befriends farmers' widows in Vidarbha but has no views on what can be done to stop farmers' suicides. He tells the adivasis in Niyamgiri that he will be their 'sipahi' in Delhi but does not tell us if by this he means he would like them to continue being primitive, marginal communities. He tells us that he thinks that SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) is just as bad as the RSS but does not explain why. So it makes it that much more curious that he should have made his first serious policy statement to the American ambassador.

He was lunching in the American Embassy, we hear from WikiLeaks, and when the subject of India's security concerns came up, he said that he believed 'radicalised Hindu groups' were more of a threat to India than the Lashkar-e-Toiba. As someone who has always laughed indulgently at Rahul's rural field trips and other foibles, my first reaction was to laugh. And, then I stopped myself. Rahul's comment is too serious to laugh at. Not when we know of the Lashkar-e-Toiba's role as the organiser of 26/11.

Perhaps, nobody told Rahul Gandhi about the origins of the Lashkar and the reasons why it is such a powerful terrorist organisation. Perhaps, nobody told him that it was created by the Pakistani Army and that its founder, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, was seen last week in the company of high officials at some event in Islamabad. Can Rahul name one Hindu radical group that has the backing of the Indian Army? Can he name one Hindu radical group that has the protection of the Indian state? So, for the man who could be our future prime minister, to believe that radical Hindu groups are more of a threat than the Lashkar-e-Toiba is not just bizarre, but very scary.

There are those who dismissed Rahul's comments as stupidity but to do this is to absolve him of responsibility for what he said. Besides, there seems to be more to what Rahul Gandhi told the American ambassador if you keep in mind what another Congress general secretary, Digvijay Singh, recently said about Hemant Karkare's tragic death. He later clarified that he had not meant that the terrorist attack on Mumbai was the work of Hindu terrorists but has not explained why he was releasing a book called, RSS ki saazish—26/11. This absurdly titled book has been written by a Muslim journalist and if Digvijay Singh was not sympathetic to the idea mentioned so explicitly in the title, what was he doing at the book's release?

When Rahul Gandhi's comments to the American ambassador became public last week, he responded by saying that all terrorism and communalism was dangerous for India. This goes without saying but what does not go without saying is why senior leaders of the Congress Party are playing such dangerous games with these two evil cousins. Is it because the drubbing in Bihar has caused temporary insanity? Is it because Rahul is so unnerved about reducing (despite his best efforts) the Congress Party's seats in the Bihar legislature to four that he is listening to old type advisors? The kind who believe the only way for the Congress to revive itself in northern India is by exploiting those ancient divisions of caste and creed?

If this is so, Rahul Gandhi's future looks very bleak. If there is a lesson he can learn from Bihar it is that even in our poorest, most backward state, it is no longer possible to fool voters (either Hindu or Muslim) into being misled by false divisions of caste and creed. Nitish Kumar won a second term because people could see the roads, schools and hospitals he built. But, I digress from the main point of this piece which is to assert as firmly as I possibly can that national security is sacrosanct.

If at the highest levels of the Congress Party there are people who believe that the Lashkar-e-Toiba is less dangerous for India than homegrown Hindu radical groups, then Pakistan has won not just on the terrorist front but on the propaganda front as well. Let's stop sending Islamabad those dossiers and lists of jihadi terrorists. They are meaningless now. Meanwhile, let the Congress Party try persuading the people of India that Hindu terrorists are the biggest threat to national security and see how many seats they win in the next election.


BK Chowla, said...

Rahul, I feel, is being misguided by the likes of Diggy and Chidu. Sonia must stop these jokers now

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Sir, don't you think that Sonia also is a misguided one?