For any movement or leader to come of age, they have to seize the moral high ground. The Congress was baptised on the moral high ground of non-violence and the freedom struggle. It converted this advantage by turning its soul slogan, secularism, into a parthenon of tolerance and governance. Last week, the party faced its nemesis in the form of the World Sufi Forum. PM Narendra Modi, long portrayed by it as the merchant of death and the incinerator of Muslims, swept the minority championship rug from under their secular feet when he declared Sufism to be Islam’s greatest gift to mankind. On March 17, speaking at Vigyan Bhavan, he addressed a vast forum of global Islamic leaders, “When we think of the 99 names of Allah, none stands for force and violence. At a time when the dark shadows of violence are getting longer, you are the only Noor or light of hope. When young voices are silenced by guns on the streets, yours is the voice that heals.”
In one elegant and expansive stroke, Modi made the Indian Left-over secularists look orphaned of all legacy. All their years of marketing the Gujarat riots as Modi’s opera had gone waste.
Around the same time, when Kashmiri separatists were trying out the Pakistani High Commissioner’s biryani, also present in New Delhi among the 200-odd global Islamic leaders was Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri who has demonstrated many times his power to bring Pakistan to its knees. At the time two Kashmiri student punks were praising Afzal Guru and equating him with secularism, the crowds at Ramlila Maidan were roaring the names of international Sufi leaders from Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq, who ascended the stage one by one to speak out against terror.
Thus, for the first time after the BJP came to power, it acquired the moral high ground of leading a government that stood for protecting moderates, including Muslims, all over the world, leaving a disconsolate opposition trapped in the marsh of its own manipulations. A man they had pilloried as a Right wing fanatic was championing the right of all men to live free from fear. A leader who was castigated for refusing to wear an Islamic cap offered by a mischievous secularist at a public function was wearing his moral credentials like a feather in his cap. What went wrong with Sonia’s plans?
Little had the Congress perceived that the super-Hindu nationalist was already trapping them with his silence towards their hysterics. By refusing to engage them over Ghar Wapsi and intolerance on their own turf, Modi was building his own moral high ground. By advocating the Sufi pacifist cause, he segued the voice of over 14 crore Indian Sunni Muslims with his own, thus granting Moditva a halo of tolerance. A powerful Wahhabi imam howled that Modi was dividing Indian Muslims by supporting Sufis. He missed the point that if Modi was consolidating the peaceful Indian Muslim as a force against terrorism, which is mainly sponsored by Pakistan, it would only win him global accolades as a sane, moderate voice against the greatest evil that haunts mankind. And not like one of the hypocritical weak-kneed European PMs who keep sacrificing their citizens at the altar of accommodation, but as a leader ready to act against the enemy by carrying the sane world with him.
The Congress and other secular desperados need to realise that a war is not won by losing temper and rousing the inner ape. It is won through strategy. Their greatest nightmare is coming true. As their secularism stands exposed, Modi has hijacked their strategy and platform too. What they stand to lose next is their moral high ground.