Can the Congress led by 74-year-old Antonia Maino and her middle-aged progenies be trusted to protect the country’s national and security interests? Is the party pronouncedly anti-Hindu? Most of us know the answer but cannot bring ourselves to say it.
The ruling BJP which should ideally have made it a permanent poll issue has still not found the courage to catch the bull by the horns even after six years in power. On the contrary it keeps playing to the pseudo-secular gallery in the hope of earning a few brownie points in the overwhelmingly liberal print and electronic media, both national and global, which keeps running it down. Efforts to earn its goodwill have so far been an exercise in self-deception. The RSS’ bid to propagate that every denizen of Bharat is Hindu since Hinduism is a “civilizational concept” invites wry smiles from Hindus and contempt from the minorities, especially Muslims, who think they are the chosen people of Allah, and the rest kafirs. Both sides consider the claim contrived and largely aimed at mollifying Muslims.
The Congress double speak on the revocation of Article 370, ambivalence over the crucial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), opposition to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as well as the National Population Register (NPR) are potent issues to target the grand old party. Not to speak of its recent role in fomenting the Bengaluru riots in league with Muslims, and Rahul Gandhi’s open backing of an activist of the ISI linked Popular Front of India (PFI) arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was en route to fish in the troubled waters of Hathras. Loss of power at the Centre revealed the party’s seamier side. Open support for the tukde-tukde gang, courting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with whom the party signed an MoU in 2008, supping in private with the Pakistan High Commissioner whose bosses in Islamabad wanted Antonia’s hatchet man, Ahmad Patel, to be chief minister of Gujarat in 2017 betrayed the party’s anti-national DNA.
The Congress was the default party of governance till the 2014 electoral storm cut the ground from under its feet, drastically changing the national discourse. Till then it was taken for granted that even if the Congress was voted out for brief spells, it was only a question of time before it returned to the driver’s seat. Sacrificing the national interest at the altar of minority appeasement did not seem to hurt its electoral fortunes. The blind pursuit of a counterfeit brand of secularism seemed to pay off even as it deepened the political fault lines in states like Assam, Bengal, Kerala, and Kashmir with sizeable Muslim populations. While the insurgences in the North-east, specially Assam, were squashed, that in Kashmir went out of hand, resulting in a pogrom and the mass exodus of lakhs of Hindus. The Congress was regarded as indecisive, weak, and corrupt, but not many were ready to label it anti-national.
The character of the party began to change after Antonia Maino took over the party’s reins in 1997-98. Questions of her foreign origin were brushed aside despite nagging doubts about her loyalty to Bharat. Matters came to a head on May 15, 1999, during a CWC meeting over the proposal to make her the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha poll that year. Veterans Sharad Pawar, P A Sangma, and Tariq Anwar raised the banner of revolt. Sycophants of the dynasty led by Arjun Singh, however, helped her survive and cement her position. Between 2004-14 Antonia ruled the country like an empress with the help of a dummy prime minister, and her man friday, Ahmed Patel, a consummate wheeler-dealer with Islamist links.
The socio-economic agenda of the government was set by a National Advisory Council, a body dominated by social activists with Maoist sympathies, former bureaucrats running prosperous, foreign funded NGOs, and Left-leaning economists. Though the NAC helped draft key pieces of legislation like the Right to Information, Right to Education, National Food Security, and was behind the setting up of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), the larger purpose behind its creation was to act as a super cabinet and push an anti-Hindu blueprint.
The Right to Education Act, 2009, was passed as an ostensibly secular Act, building on the cleverly worded 93rd Constitutional amendment to ensure that minority institutions would be exempted from the legislation by courts. As expected, the Supreme Court in 2012 first exempted unaided minority schools from RTE, and later in the 2014 Pramati judgement a larger SC bench exempted even aided minority schools from the Act. Thus the Congress managed to surreptitiously implement their anti-Hindu bias, and the BJP kept mum. Again, the NCMEI which was set up soon after the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power in 2004, was used to withdraw CBSE affiliation for the National Public School (NPS) group of institutions as recently as 2016. The NPS is run by the Bangalore based National Educational Trust.
Bit and pieces of information on the Congress’ anti-Hindu mindset kept trickling. Late 2010 a secret US diplomatic cable dated August 3, 2009, released by Wikileaks said Rahul Gandhi, then general secretary, had told US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that growth of “radicalized Hindu groups” posed a bigger threat to the country than the activities of groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Rahul shared this malicious information while discussing with Roemer the political challenges facing the Congress in the next five years. The occasion was a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the visiting secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
26/11 was back in the news earlier this year with ex-Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria claiming in his memoir Let Me Say It Now that the LeT planned to project the 26/11 terror strike as a case of “Hindu terror”. Whatever the veracity of Maria’s claim, the possibility of the Mumbai terror attack (in which 166 people were killed and 300 injured) being a Congress-Pakistan ISI plot cannot be ruled out given the party’s record of breaking bread with the nation’s enemies, both external and internal.
Antonia’s hatred for Hindus was also confirmed by no less a person than the country’s late President, Pranab Mukherjee, in his book, The Coalition Years (1999-2012). Many decisions during the UPA tenure, he wrote, were expressly taken to target the majority community and its religious leaders on trumped up charges. The Shankaracharya of the Kanchi-Kamakoti peetham, Jayendra Saraswati, was arrested on fabricated charges of murder within a few months of the UPA’s return to power in 2004. And that too on the day of Diwali. The author recalled being so upset that he raised the issue in the cabinet meeting: “Is the scale of secularism in the country limited to Hindu saints alone? Can a state police show the courage to arrest a Muslim cleric on Eid?”
With so much ammunition at its disposal, it is surprising and disappointing that the BJP did not unleash a sustained public campaign to expose the Congress’ real face. Instead you hear Rahul Gandhi screeching at poll rallies that the Chinese have parked themselves on 1,200 kms of Bhartiya territory in Ladakh, and that the RSS is scared to admit it. The response from the Defense minister is the hollow parrot cry, “The Chinese will not be allowed to access an inch of our land.”
A pathetic inferiority complex seems to pervade the ruling establishment. The Congress with 52 MPs in the Lok Sabha has more fire power than the BJP with 303. One or two articles authored by minions of the vicious Left-Liberal-Muslim alliance in the New York Times or Washington Post is enough to send the government scurrying for cover. Amit Shah is neutered, CAA is put on hold, and the entire dispensation goes on the backfoot. The most recent example of the government’s refusal to pick up the gauntlet is leaving a nationalist TV channel, #Republic, in the lurch even as it continues to be bled by the Mumbai Police’s wolves at the behest of Maharashtra’s venal Maha Vikas Agadi regime right under its nose. One telephone call from the HM would have been enough to caution the Pawar-Thackeray duo, and call Antonia’s bluff. The sound of silence is all that has been heard so far.
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