Has the Congress’s decision to align with a party that it had accused of having links with militants who assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, not been a betrayal of Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom?
The Congress is infuriated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attacked one of its icons Rajiv Gandhi in his election speeches. In its ferocity, the party has accused the Prime Minister of belittling Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom by levelling false charges. So, what has the Congress done in the years gone by to maintain the dignity of that martyrdom? Here are a few samples.
In 1997, the Jain Commission, which had been constituted to study the conspiracy angle in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, submitted its findings to the Government of the day. It reportedly criticised the DMK, among others, for tacitly supporting Tamil militants accused in the killing. The Congress demanded that the report be tabled in parliament, a demand which was rejected by then Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral. He constituted a parliamentary panel to assess the Jain Commission’s report and made it clear that he backed the DMK. On its part, the DMK said that the Jain report was nothing but “recycled news”. The fact is that various accounts of the incident, including books written on the LTTE-Sri Lanka conflict, have repeatedly spoken of links between the militant group and the DMK. The Congress withdrew its outside support to the Gujral regime, which fell as a consequence.
Almost a year ago, Rahul Gandhi, now the Congress president, stated that his sister Priyanka Vadra and he had “completely forgiven” their father’s assassins.
Congress members had then chanted: “Remove DMK save the country.” So far so good. But ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress led by Sonia Gandhi reached out to the same DMK for an alliance. Since then, directly or indirectly, the two parties have been together, and are fighting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections too as partners. Has the Congress’s decision to align with a party that it had accused of having links with militants who assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, not been a betrayal of Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom?
Almost a year ago, Rahul Gandhi, now the Congress president, stated that his sister Priyanka Vadra and he had “completely forgiven” their father’s assassins. Not just that, he also felt sorry over the death of V Prabhakaran, the chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the organisation which had masterminded Rajiv Gandhi’s killing. He said, “When I saw Prabhakaran lying dead on TV, I got two feelings — the first was, why are they humiliating this man in this way. And the second was… I really felt bad for him and his kids.” So much for Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom.
When this has been the brother-sister duo’s response towards their father’s killers, is it any wonder that the Congress should have many years later felt sad for the militants who were involved in the Batla House encounter in which a brave police officer laid down his life? Is it then surprising that the Congress has been reticent on the Burhan Wanis and openly supportive of the tukde-tukde gang that wants the dismemberment of India? But let’s return to the issue at hand.
Perhaps Rahul Gandhi is trying to get even with the BJP which had been part of the Opposition’s election war cry thirty years ago: “Gali gali main shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai”, by now calling chanting, “Chowkidar chor hai”.
Why did Prime Minister invoke Rajiv Gandhi’s alleged misdeeds in the middle of the election campaign? He has provided the context: He said since that the Congress had been cashing in on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, it should also be prepared to face the flip side of the former Prime Minister. Besides, when the Congress can keep abusing him (Modi), and accusing him of various supposed wrongdoing — none of which was substantiated, it was kosher for the BJP to raise the Rajiv Gandhi era’s corruption. The Prime Minister has a point there.
It is undeniable that the Bofors payback scam took place. It is also a fact that money had changed hands. It is true that the names of people close to Rajiv Gandhi and his family came up as middleman and facilitators of the gun deal. It is indisputable that one of these gentleman’s bank accounts, which were frozen, were later de-frozen. It is true that that the Rajiv Gandhi regime did everything possible to scuttle probes into the affair. It’s a matter of record that the Rajiv Gandhi was booted out by the electorate on the issue and V.P. Singh, who had led the campaign on the corruption and left the Congress, became Prime Minister. By then, Rajiv Gandhi’s Mr Clean image was in tatters. Further, the fact also remains that Congress leaders from Rahul Gandhi up, having been calling Modi a “thief” without offering a shred of evidence, but they remember that Rajiv Gandhi was never found guilty in the Bofors deal. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. No?
Let’s also observe the outrage not just among the Congressmen, but also other political parties opposed to the BJP. The Left is today angry with the Prime Minister’s barb at Rajiv Gandhi, but what had its position been when the Bofors scandal broke out? It not only opposed Rajiv Gandhi vociferously but also extended outside support to the V.P. Singh government. Not just that, years later, when Singh claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation had weakened the case on Bofors (which is why the matter had failed to reach a conclusion) and suggested a parliamentary probe into the agency’s functioning, the Left demanded that the case be revived legally after eliminating the weaknesses left by the agency.
Perhaps Rahul Gandhi is trying to get even with the BJP which had been part of the Opposition’s election war cry thirty years ago: “Gali gali main shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai”, by now calling chanting, “Chowkidar chor hai”. But the underlining difference is: the Bofors scam did happen, and there is nothing yet to suggest that a Rafale scam has happened.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.