Addressing the election rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi expressed such views which not only stirred up controversy but also created trouble for his own party. In his speech, whatever Rahul Gandhi said on terrorism and communalism in spite of playing with people’s sentiments, raised several questions. He said that terrorism is flourishing in the country as political parties like BJP are inciting communalism. Blaming the alleged hate politics of BJP for assassination of his grand mother and father, Rahul expressed threat to his own life. He stunned the entire country by claiming that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI was reaching out to kin of Muslim youths during Muzaffarnagar communal violence last month. Rahul also claimed that he had been briefed by intelligence officials about it. Several Muslim organizations and political parties like BJP and SP criticized Congress vice-president’s statement which seems to be devoid of factual content. First question arises, if the ISI was in touch with people affected in violence, why did the intelligence agencies brief Rahul about it? If the intelligence agencies had such information they should have put a check on the ISI so that Pakistan could be exposed at international forum. Muslim organizations’ objection bears significance that Rahul’s speech unnecessarily casts doubt on the patriotism of Muslim community.

By painting the BJP with communal brush, Rahul is trying to convince common people that it’s only Congress which is fighting communal forces. The common people are unlikely to agree to his views. In fact, Rahul is trying to polarize voters on the basis of religion in run up to the elections. The Congress has been using such measures to keep the Muslim voters intact with it. After such controversy, the Congress will find it difficult to blunt the Opposition attack. Meanwhile, senior SP leader Azam Khan demanded Rahul’s apology for doubting loyalty of Muslim youths. Congress leader’s statement that communal politics is the root cause of terrorism drew severe criticism. It’s true that terrorism flourishes due to hatred enmity but it’s not the sole reason behind the worldwide menace. As far as assassination of Indira and Rajiv is concerned, it was totally political.  

Rahul Gandhi has committed a political mistake by recalling stories of assassination of his grandmother and father. It seems that he is not well aware of the Sikh extremism and LTTE movement of 80s-90s. Sikh extremists were demanding separate state of Khalistan for Sikhs and it’s a well-established fact that Congress, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, made the soil fertile for Sikh extremism, so that it could thrive, mainly to gain upper hand against Akali Dal. In fact, it was Congress which let Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale expand his reach and when the situation went out of control, the Army was pressed into service in order to flush them out of Golden Temple in Amritsar. Indira Gandhi’s decision to send Army to Golden Temple enraged the Sikhs, which eventually resulted in her assassination by her two bodyguards. A tinge of similarity was noticeable in the assassination of ex-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi as well. Initially, the Congress-led government backed LTTEs, who were fighting in Sri Lanka to demand a separate Tamil state. Later on, it dispatched Army in Sri Lanka to curb the LTTEs. This action of Indian government did not go down well with LTTEs which assassinated Rajiv Gandhi during an election rally in Tamil Nadu in 1991. Like Sikh extremism, the LTTE’s fight also had more political hue. Perhaps, it would be better for Rahul to ponder over whatever speech he is going to deliver during election rallies as the Congress finds itself difficult to defend his statement.

The fact that politicians let their tongue go unbridled keeping aside logic especially during elections. Though it’s their daily routine to indulge in war of words with political rivals in the run up to elections, the process of mud-slinging becomes a regular phenomenon and this makes them commit bloopers. In democracy, political parties have the right to openly air their views and criticize Opposition parties, but it does not mean that they narrate concocted stories to people or take help of false figures and statistics. If politicians have the right to present their views, even people have the right to derive accurate and actual information from their elected representatives. Our country has not been able to formulate those ways of campaigning in elections, which have proved considerably successful in other countries. In several countries, it has been seen that the candidates hold debate via television, radio and other modes of communication. This lends strength to democracy and truth emerges to some extent. In India, politicians often call for an open debate; however, they are well aware of this fact that this is not going to happen.

The Election Commission needs to do something concrete to stop politicians from indulging in series of allegations and counter-allegations. The Commission also needs to introduce certain measures so that the political parties can’t present half-cooked facts before people. As of now, there is no such mechanism and that’s why, the people are not only given false assurances but also provided conjured details of history. It would be appreciable if the Election Commission can evolve a tradition under which both the candidates and the poll campaigners share the public dais and debate with each other. Only this can prove effective to check such political speeches to a considerable extent.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on October 27, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)