Why has this Congress leader behaved so irresponsibly and why has the party high command not taken exception to his act of brazen incitement to violence?
The recent violence that was unleashed on people from north India residing in parts of Gujarat, was not a spontaneous public outburst against the rape of a local girl by the accused who happened to be from the Hindi heartland. It was incited by certain political leaders. Now that they have been caught on tape, and the entire country has seen and heard the tape on various television channels, they are seeking to wriggle out of the shame by offering lame excuses. Among those who have been exposed are Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and his Thakor Sena. Predictably, the Congress leadership, both at the high command and the State level, has been silent. The few who have defended Alpesh Thakor have taken the pretext that his Gujarati speech has been wrongly translated into English and Hindi!
The Congress hopes to make, for instance, make Bihar Chief Minister speak out in some manner against the regime in Gujarat — and vice versa
Why has this Congress leader behaved so irresponsibly and why has the party high command not taken exception to his act of brazen incitement to violence? The answer is evident: The situation suits the Congress. The aims are multi-fold. The first is to create violent disturbance in Gujarat, and then blame the Bharatiya Janata Party Government, there for its ‘failure’ to maintain law and order. Ever since the Congress lost the last Assembly election it believed it would win, it has been seeking avenues to discredit the Vijay Rupali regime. The Patel agitation has for now fizzled out; communal harmony has been maintained; developmental works are in progress. Bereft of issues, the likes of Thakor, who consider it their duty to prove their usefulness to their party’s senior leaders in New Delhi, latched on the unfortunate incident of rape. It’s not surprising that various sympathisers of the Congress have begun to question the BJP regime in the State for the crisis, while conveniently refusing to pinpoint the source of trouble.
The second aim is to create friction between the north Indian States of Bihar & Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, by constructing an ‘outsider’ versus ‘Gujarati’ narrative. More than that, it is to lead to an embarrassment to the BJP, because the BJP rules the three States in question (Bihar, as part of a coalition). The Congress hopes to make, for instance, make Bihar Chief Minister speak out in some manner against the regime in Gujarat — and vice versa. So far, that tactic has not worked, primarily because the Congress’s role got exposed. But the attempt will continue.
With the 2019 Lok Sabha drawing near, it is unlikely that the Congress will abandon the path, regardless of the fact that the common man ends up being the ultimate loser
The third goal is equally devious. It is to create a vicious divide between Indians on the basis of region. This is something that the Shiv Sena mastered over the decades in Mumbai (Maharashtra), and which ideology is now also followed by Raj Thackeray’s MNS. Like in the case of Mumbai, a large chunk of the population in Gujarati comprises ‘outsiders’ who have been in different ways contributing for decades to the State’s economy. Over these years, Gujarat has rarely seen a conflict between locals and ‘outsiders’, but the Congress wants to disrupt the harmony, believing that it can gain politically. In Gujarat, the Congress wants to fan local sentiments against ‘outsider’ north Indians; in the north, it wishes to spread the message that the Gujarat regime is against north Indians. For the Congress, it’s ‘heads I win, tails you lose’.
Perhaps, in time to come, if the heat gets unbearable for it, the Congress may tick off Alpesh Thakor. But that would be for public consumption — just like Mani Shankar Aiyar’s suspension had been; he was taken back into the party after the dust of the Gujarat Assembly election had settled down. But there is no denying the party has often resorted to cheap but dangerous tactics in the past. One may recall that it had, in the run-up to the Delhi election, created a brouhaha over ‘attacks’ on churches and blamed the Sangh elements for it. More recently, visual evidence surfaced in the media of certain leaders and workers of the Congress instigating farmers’ protests in Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh). At times, the party makes use of proxies to play mischief. Take the Bhima Koregaon violence; independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani, who had the Congress’s backing in the Assembly poll, is said to have fished in troubled waters and worsened an already tense situation.
The Congress’s strategy is to create an environment of unrest in States that are ruled by the BJP, and then squeeze political benefits out of the emergent situation. In this, it has the assistance of sections of rights activists, the media and the political establishment. With the 2019 Lok Sabha drawing near, it is unlikely that the Congress will abandon the path, regardless of the fact that the common man ends up being the ultimate loser.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.