The Congress, Salman Rushdie and the Minority Card
In 1988 the congress party led by Rajiv Gandhi banned the Satanic Verses, even before the book had been published. The Congress was facing an election in 1989 and Rajiv Gandhi thought that by banning the Satanic verses, he would gain in the coming elections. He and his advisors reasoned that Muslims will be happy and they will vote for the Congress. This was a simplistic thought and one wonders how Rajiv could be so foolish. Needless to add the Congress party lost the elections and their seats were reduced from 415 to just about 155. It was a colossal defeat and showed that minority vote banks don’t work all the time.
The Congress party has a history of appeasement of the Muslims in India and that is one reason the party has lost its monolith hold in parliament.
This year again true to its colors the Congress party again thought of getting some electoral gains from the Rushdie issue. Rushdie was to attend the Jaipur literary fest. He had attended it last time in 2008 and there was no ruckus. Nobody even noticed it, but this time now the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi thought that the issue could be used to the congress party’s advantage in the coming UP elections.
The Congress party thus on her direction orchestrated a great charade. It was made out that hired assassins from Mumbai underworld were out to kill Rushdie. The same information was conveyed to Rushdie so as to deter him from coming to India. Later even a video link by which Rushdie was to connect to the fest was cancelled on the threat of a fringe minority of extremist Muslims. In this the Congress party cut a poor figure eland showed India in poor light. One may ask what the Indian prime minister was doing all along. Unfortunately Man Mohan Singh is a stooge (I am sorry I have to use this strong word) of the Gandhi family and with no backbone and no political base he just kept silent. Sad for India, that such a man heads a democracy of 1.2 billion people.
The Congress thus sabotaged the visit of Rushdie who in any case is a great writer. But the congress may soon realize like Rajiv Gandhi did, that such acts do not ensure a win at the hustings. The UP elections may throw up a real surprise and give a nasty shock to heir apparent Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
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