Congress leaders betray ignorance about India’s secular commitment for democracy and unity.
Few top Congress leaders, Salman Khurshid, Mani Shankar Ayer and Jyotiraditya Scindia, appear to have turned pro-Pakistan in their bid to woo Muslim votes in Uttar Pradesh – a state which had a strong constituency for setting up a separate Muslim homeland back in 1947. It is difficult to say that they do not know that Pakistan was set up to serve oil interests in the Gulf region and to stall the expansion of the then Soviet Union and the Communist takeover of China.
The British had ignored the majority of Muslim opinion against partition of the country to promote setting up the state to serve their interests in the post Second World War era. More than 20,000 Muslims had assembled in Delhi to oppose Muslim League, but their leader, Allah Bux Soomro, who was twice elected as chief minister of Sind, was refused appointment with the then Governor General in Delhi. The British government wanted to present Muslim League as the sole representative of Muslims in India.
Khurshid, a former External Affairs Minister, is known for his knowledge; however, by losing the Muslim votes in his home constituency, Farrukhabad, it appears he has lost common sense. He had lost the last Lok Sabha election owing to allegations that a non-government organisation run by his wife had grabbed the government grants for disabled and blind people. With his influence in the previous government, the enquiry was stalled even by removing the then minister. However, his clean image was further tarnished and he was trounced in the polls. His political plight reminds us of many Muslim politicians, like Khaliqujumma, who had joined Muslim League because Rafi Ahmad Kidwai was too close to Jawaharlal Nehru. It was a matter of political convenience.
Mani Shankar Ayer is yet another Congress leader who sought help of Pakistan for removing Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a panel discussion. He was ridiculed by the Pakistani anchor for making such a request.
The statement of Jyotiraditya Scindia in Parliament, asking for plebiscite in Kashmir, has caused political storm even within the Congress Party. He retreated by saying, “I have never said there should be plebiscite. I have said there should be dialogue.” However, his climb down, too, was ridiculous because the UN has already defined the process of plebiscite in that Pakistan has to withdraw its troops from Kashmir and India is to be allowed to keep a minimum force for maintaining law and order.
It is time for the Congress high command to ask its vocal leaders to study the whole issue anew. It is high time the Congress launched refresher courses for its leader before they indulge in foolish rhetoric. The Congress is not in power, but these foolish statements may harm it and the country and is causing widespread embarrassment to the party’s grass root workers. These leaders are banking on the theory that the Muslims can be won on communal lines. During seventies, a section of Muslims were helped by the then Congress leaders to revive Muslim League, but the former declined to be trapped in the communal politics. They opted for Majlis-e-Mushwarrat to take up their economic and social issues.
The ongoing Kashmir issue has been further complicated by the statement of P. Chidambaram, the former Union Home Minister. Thus, the country is now witnessing two facets of Indian politics. The statement of Chidambaram, who has negated the concept of Indian nation, is indirectly supporting the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations. It reminds us of Jinnah’s communication to the Americans. On 1 May 1947, two Americans, Ronald A. Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of U.S. Embassy in India, visited Jinnah. A detailed account of this visit was sent by the American Charge D’ Affairs to Marshall, the Secretary of State. According to this account Jinnah stated that under no condition was he prepared to accept the scheme for a united and federated India. The Muslim League had decided to insist upon the creation of Pakistan; Jinnah sought to impress on his visitors that the emergence of an independent, sovereign Pakistan would be in consonance with American interests. Pakistan would be a Muslim country. Muslim countries would stand together against Russian aggression. In that endeavour they would look to the United States for assistance, he added. Jinnah was promoting the colonial interests. It must be admired that the policy to fragment India by the outgoing power is now really serving their financial and strategic interests. Therefore, the Congress leaders are serving which interest by fanning up communal issues or are they just expressing their frustration of being out of power?
Chidambaram endorses an autonomous or independent Kashmir because its population is pre-dominantly Muslim. But he is not aware that the West, too, has realised its mistake. They now believe only India can bring peace and stability in the region. According to Chidambaram’s logic, if extended, we may have to set up Muslim enclaves in various parts of the country to please Muslim radicals who had supported the creation of Pakistan but could not migrate to their dreamland. Earlier this week, Chidambaram had advocated restoring the “grand bargain” under which Kashmir had acceded to India by granting a large degree of autonomy, warning that otherwise the country will have to pay a “heavy price”. It also betrays the fact that Chidambaram needs to study the history of the twin states, India and Pakistan. They had been born from the womb of the British House of Commons through legislation. There was no place for a third independent state. The then native king of Kashmir, Hari Singh, had to decide whether he would join India or Pakistan. The Muslim population under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah was closer to the Congress Party under Nehru and Gandhi than the British supported Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Therefore, Jinnah had attacked Kashmir in spite of the standstill agreement with Hari Singh.
Interestingly, the task to debunk the two-nation theory, that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations, is being undertaken by the Modi Government and its team. The Congress has retreated from this sensitive issue. The second statement from M.J. Akbar, a journalist turned politician, now Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry in Parliament, has logically exposed Chidambaram and his myopic approach. He presents the correct historical perspective with the all-inclusive goal of Indian nationhood. Interestingly, the Congress Party has distanced itself from Chidambaram’s statement. This only betrays that the Congress Party is being dominated by only self-serving politicians having hardly any vision of a united India. It is sad that the party continues to promote such leaders that have hardly any support base at the grass root level and are only known for misusing their respective positions to make huge money. Now, such leaders are giving us advice on how to resolve issues!
Even Congressmen, who seldom openly oppose such people, are restive as they know that once the two-nation theory is encouraged, India will be fragmented. The Harvard-educated Chidambaram and people like Mani Shankar Ayer are either political buffoons or deliberately indulging in cheap politics to get the Muslim voters, who they believe are basically communal. These Congress leaders must recollect that the Muslim majority areas in the undivided India never wanted Pakistan. The Muslim League had won in East Bengal, which was hardly any strategic interest of the outgoing colonial power. Interestingly, in Jinnah’s Muslim League, Bengalis did not command much respect; he believed that perhaps the Bengali Muslims were not true followers of Islam. With the British help, he wanted to create Pakistan, which is hardly having any relevance to the West now. Therefore, those who want to communalise Muslims are unfair to the faith and its followers. Most of the Muslims know it and the Congress is losing its following among them.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Media India Centre for Research and Development.