Politics, admittedly, requires a thick skin. Yet, everything has its limits. Even the grandest imagination and hallucinations of the ideologue must bear some relation to reality. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to headlines quoting Rahul Gandhi saying that declaring Narendra Modi’s innocence in the violence of 2002 was still premature.
To quote, “The specific allegation and evidence pointing to Mr Modi’s responsibility in the 2002 riots are yet to be adequately probed. Any talks of his having been given a clean chit may be politically expedient, but is far too premature.”
Perhaps I am wrong in my surprise. After all, it wouldn’t be far from reality to assert that Rahul Gandhi’s family has treated India as their fiefdom and its citizens as their subjects. From the earliest days of Indian independence, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has systematically eroded institutions of the State and made corruption and sycophancy endemic to them. It is therefore only logical that the young scion would express utter contempt for the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s (SIT’s) detailed findings and the judiciary’s verdict thereafter. What court could possibly have the authority to hand down a judgment contrary to what the Emperor-wannabe wants? The wounds of 2002 still not healed completely, Rahul Gandhi has shown that he, like his predecessors, is willing to unfeelingly stoke the sentiments of the victims – Hindus and Muslims alike – for political gain.
Now, I know that memory is not a gift of Mr Gandhi and I apologize in advance for straying beyond 8-second sound-bytes. But one ought to consider the history of pogroms under the Congress Party’s watch. Whether it was in the name of religion, revenge, or sheer political opportunism, thousands were killed, tortured, and imprisoned under Rahul Gandhi’s father’s watch and his grandmother’s before that.
The anti-Sikh massacre of 1984 is most commonly recalled, during which Congress members led mobs with the help of electoral lists to Sikh neighbourhoods and savaged them. Fathers were butchered before their sons, mothers raped, and young sons tied to tyres and set ablaze. Over 4,000 people died in the violence for which no one has yet been held accountable. In fact, a group in the United States, Sikhs for Justice, has sued Sonia Gandhi for harbouring the perpetrators of the massacre.
If this were an isolated incident of “trees falling,” one might, however painfully, look ahead in the interest of national harmony. But India has been subject to regular and massive deforestation! In the 1992 Bombay riots, 575 of the 900 dead were Muslims. In the Nellie riots of 1983, 2,191 Muslims were killed in cold blood. Indira Gandhi justified her government’s initial inaction and slow response by saying, “One has to let such events take their own course before stepping in.”
Similarly, the Gujarat riots in 1969 saw 660 dead, 430 of whom were Muslims. In 1989, of the 1,070 killed in Bhagalpur, 876 were Muslims. In case Mr Gandhi does not remember, Bhagalpur is the place made infamous by corpses – of men, women, and children – found staring up from under cauliflower fields. In 1987, the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in Hashimpura rounded up 42 Muslim youths one night, took them outside the village in trucks, shot them, and dumped their bodies in nearby water canals. Their futures were abruptly cut short, their families traumatized for life.
Even if Rahul Gandhi and his Congress sycophants do remember, we can never forget the brutal yet casual murder of democracy in India by none other than Rahul’s grandmother. During the 21-month nightmare, Indira Gandhi’s government wantonly arrested thousands of people, beat them, imprisoned them, tortured them, conducted forced vasectomies on thousands of men, and demolished their dwellings. Hundreds were never heard from again. The full extent of Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother’s crimes may never be known but a glimpse of the life in Emergency Rule India can be had from TV Eachara Warrier’s heart-rending memoir, Memories of a Father.
Two points must be made for the humane among us: first, why the focus on Muslims? After all, aren’t the dead – whatever their religious, sexual, or other orientations – all our fellow Indians, whom we failed to protect? Indeed they are, but since the Congress Party’s putative prime ministerial candidate insists on making the 2014 elections about minorities and fear-mongering rather than development, someone ought to point out to him that the ground he is standing on is oozing with blood that his family is responsible for.
Second, why is the focus only on violence? Has Congress rule for over more than five decades not condemned Indians of all faiths to a wretched fate some might consider worse than death? This is absolutely true. The abject poverty Indians suffered under Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather and grandmother in the first four and a half decades after independence is no less than a crime against humanity. Two generations were stunted by Congress policies and the pervasive middle class poverty that existed. However, right now, I only wish to address Rahul Gandhi’s narrow assertions of culpability for violence against minorities.
However political operators try to spin the tale, the facts remain that the Congress Party and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty have been and remain a pox on India. Is the BJP better? I think so, but even if you don’t, it would be hard to objectively argue that anything could possibly be worse than the Congress.
Amit Malviya is a banker, an early stage investor and is the National Co-Conevener of Friends of BJP. He tweets @malviyamit. Views are personal.