Unlike his several earlier secret visits to Europe, Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s recent visits to the United Kingdom and Germany were widely reported as they were part of the Gandhi clan’s NRI outreach programme. At the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London last month, Rahul said, “The RSS is trying to change the nature of India. There is no other organisation in India that wants to capture India’s institutions ... What we are dealing with is a completely new idea. It’s an old idea being reborn. It is similar to the idea that exists in the Arab world of the Muslim Brotherhood. The idea is that one ideology should run through every institution and one idea should crush all other ideas.”
Earlier too, speaking at Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, he had likened the RSS to the Muslim Brotherhood. He alleged that minorities are excluded from the development process and are being alienated. This has created a space for insurgency in the country. When the US attacked Iraq in 2003, it introduced a law that did not allow one particular tribe from getting government jobs, Rahul said. It “seemed like a very innocuous decision at the time … Few months after the invasion, the network that was excluded from jobs in Iraq, the Tikriti tribal network linked up with the cell phone network in Iraq and with the network of artillery shells left in the villages.” “And you got an insurgency that fought the United States and caused massive casualties to the Americans.
And it didn’t end there. That insurgency slowly entered empty spaces. It entered the empty space in Iraq. It entered the empty space in Syria. And then it connected with the global internet to form the horrific idea called ISIS.” How do the bizarre theories floated by Rahul on foreign soil measure against facts? It was the Congress-led UPA government in 2013 that had hosted then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a key leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Seven agreements related to information technology and cyber security were signed on the occasion.
Morsi was overthrown soon after, and is now in jail. Is it not that all well-meaning Indians want India to change, and change for the better? An India sans corruption, crony capitalism and nepotism. The RSS may be obsessed with its ideology (nothing wrong in that), but is it not a fact that the Congress, during five decades of being in power in independent India, refused to see beyond the Nehru/Gandhi clan? Every second institution built with public funds is named after one family. Comparing the Muslim Brotherhood to the RSS and BJP is atrocious.
While Muslim Brotherhood is declared a terrorist organisation (by some countries), the RSS has a history of over 90 years of service to India. Its volunteers have always engaged in relief and rehabilitation work during natural calamities. The RSS’ declared creed is Hindutva, representing its timeless inclusive ethos and catholic outlook. It is against bigotry, is progressive in its attitude and believes in social justice. Despite the Left-inspired malicious campaign spanning over more than half a century, RSS is a force to reckon with in India and abroad. No doubt, a large number of Indian Muslims are alienated from the mainstream.
But this is true of the US and several Christian majority countries in Europe as well. Even in Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, large sections of Muslims are at war with followers of other religions and also among themselves. Education can do little to stop Islamist radicalisation. Look at some infamous terrorists. Osama bin Laden was a chemical engineer. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic studies. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who played a crucial in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US, was a physician. So was Camp Chapman suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balaw.
Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad had a degree in management. According to Rahul, ISIS came into being in 2004 because a particular group was denied jobs. But it has been said to have started in 1999 in Jordan while Iraq was still under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime. Its parent outfit was named Jamaat al-Tawhid wal- Jihad or the Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad, which was founded by a Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Before the US forces invaded Iraq, Zarqawi travelled to several places in Iraq seeking support. He formed ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq’ in 2004 and was killed in 2006 by US forces. His successor Abu Ayyub Al-Masri renamed the group as Islamic State of Iraq. Masri was killed in 2010 and was replaced by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Later, Islamic State of Iraq joined rebel forces and renamed itself ISIS. Thus the Islamic State was formed. Not because a tribe was denied jobs. It has been a continuous process, inspired by Islamic theology. Many Muslim-converts from Christianity in Europe have become terrorists. What, then, has terrorism to do with development? Can there be anybody else more accommodating than our Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi? He bent backwards to accommodate Muslims in united India, but failed to stop the Partition.
Rahul may have won applause for such speeches from professional Modi-haters and elements inimical to the liberal and catholic tradition of India. It was a desperate, alienated politician talking to foreigners. The Congress President has surely hurt Indian interests in his vilification campaign against political foes at home.
Former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues