Although very tragic, it is least surprising that the Congress has chosen to settle scores with the BJP, the Central government led by the BJP and more particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, using the recent happenings on the India-China border. Why is the Congress leadership behaving in this manner?
Given the history of Communist parties in India, it is not surprising that they have taken a soft stand towards China and its misadventure. But from the Congress party, as India’s GOP, expectations were certainly very different.
During the immediate post-Independence era, the then RSS chief Guruji Golwalkar had at multiple occasions strongly advocated a united approach in the face of external threats rising above petty partisan considerations. “Vayam Panchadhikam Shatam”, meaning we are all together and hence 105 (100 Kauravas and 5 Pandavas) was his sane advice.
In fact, when the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru was to be greeted with black flags at Fort Pratap Gadh in Maharashtra, right in the thick of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in the late fifties, the RSS had opposed this demonstration saying that we must not insult our guest who is here to unveil the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Most non-Congress parties in India had taken a similar approach and extended all possible cooperation to the governments of the day on all occasions when some neighbouring country threatened India’s sovereignty.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee had famously appreciated the leadership provided by Smt Indira Gandhi during the Bangladesh war. Similar was the approach of opposition parties during earlier occasions when aggressors had tried to occupy our territories. This was of course not just a coincidence, much less a tactical move by the then opposition parties.
Although we have a huge number of political parties and the political-ideological differences are perennially sharp—except for those who draw ideological inspiration from abroad—all speak in one voice when the threat is from external actors.
But alas, this time, unlike the many other non-Communist political parties, the Congress has chosen to adopt a crass partisan line giving an impression that not China but the BJP is Congress’s enemy number one. This is sordid, to say the least.
This approach of the Congress merits attention as there is clear method in the madness that India’s GOP is indulging in. There are at least three clear indicators of this. Firstly, the vexed issue of PM Modi’s remarks at the end of the all-party virtual meeting is in fact a classic case of ‘much-ado-about-nothing’. The clarification issued by the PMO later is powerful enough to have the subject settled.
“Prime Minister’s observations that there was no Chinese presence on our side of the LAC pertained to the situation as a consequence of the bravery of our armed forces. The sacrifices of the soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment foiled the attempt of the Chinese side to erect structures and also cleared the attempted transgression at this point of the LAC on that day.”
This was a statement making the situation as clear as one can. Today, if somebody is talking about surrendering Indian territory simply to satisfy one’s ego, it can best be described as a manufactured controversy.
A recalcitrant party leadership, disregarding the wrong signals that emanate causing serious damage, churlishly unleashed a social media campaign titled ‘Speak Up India campaign’. This kind of an approach would unnecessarily create an atmosphere of confusion, complicating the larger issue.
When every sane citizen is expected to rally behind the national leadership, these tactics may help the Congress earn some brownie points, but only at the cost of the nation’s collective resolve to fight against the enemy. Let it also be mentioned here that the Congress is missing the point seriously, as people in India reject any such attempt to speak in multiple voices when our enemies create trouble.
Secondly, the extraordinary belligerence with which the Congress is trying to fish in these troubled waters makes one suspect whether its main objective is to make people forget the sins committed by previous Congress governments. Not just one or two, but the Congress had committed at least four big blunders during its regimes. Defence experts have rightly described all these as Himalayan blunders.
These are: the mess in Jammu and Kashmir right at the dawn of Independence, continuously ignoring Chinese threats and neglecting our northern borders in the sixties, our agreeing under the Shimla Agreement to return 96,000 PoWs of Pakistan and in return getting only 617 Indian PoWs released with at least 54 languishing in Pakistani jails for decades together, and lastly our turning a Nelson’s eye to the issue of illegal migrants coming from Bangladesh and the subsequent endangering of the demographic character of regions on our borders, thanks to vote-bank politics.
Thirdly, the sheer partisan approach of the Congress is evident from the shrill campaign on an issue concerning our national spirit and nationalism. Not any economic issue or issues concerning the management of the pandemic, but it is on an emotive issue that evokes our patriotic spirit that the Congress wants to create an impression that the government is cornered.
This is a textbook example of crafty politics played with cunningness. In the late 1950s, the then Congress leadership had hijacked the socialist agenda at the Avadi session of the INC.
Thereafter, various groups labelling themselves as socialist parties felt that their independent status had become redundant and that was almost the end of the PSP and SSP. But hijacking an amorphous Socialism was easy. With Nationalism, the Congress has long before lost the constituency.
The GOP must appreciate this fact that its old brand of politics is no more relevant. Similar attempts by its leadership had ended with burnt fingers, for instance when it tried to play with fire immediately after the 1999 Kargil War.
The Congress must remember that Nationalism is not an ornament that you can conveniently wear on your sleeves. The Congress must remember that when a neighbouring country tries to challenge our sovereignty, our fight is with the challenger, not the BJP.
National Vice President of the BJP, President, ICCR, and Rajya Sabha MP