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The Congress and its desperation for the Muslim vote

By Shashi Shekhar
February 13, 2012 20:30 IST
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It is clear that the Congress party is now in a last ditch attempt to raise the Narendra Modi bogey with an eye on the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh, says Shashi Shekhar.

Leading American think-tank, the Brookings Institution based in Washington DC, carried a very interesting blog post the other day on an upcoming series of India: 'India's G-7'.

It is no surprise that the Americans are waking up to the strategic implications of how the centre of gravity of economic decision-making has shifted to the states while New Delhi stands paralysed and diminished.

Leading the pack of India's G-7, the Brookings Institution noted, was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. It is no surprise that the American strategic community has belatedly woken up to the economic costs of not engaging Narendra Modi with China having a stolen a march on them.

With a recent India Today opinion poll putting Narendra Modi ahead of Rahul Gandhi on the preference for future prime minister there is predictable anxiety within certain sections of the Delhi-based media and the Congress party.

Rahul Gandhi has already twice sought to drag Narendra Modi in to the Uttar Pradesh election campaign by politicising a matter that is subjudice in the Supreme Court.

The high stakes over the Uttar Pradesh election can hardly be overstated. There has been an element of desperation on the part of the Congress to communally polarise the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh.

Starting with the Muslim sub-quota trial balloon to the deliberate attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the Batla House encounter, the Congress' desperation over the Muslim vote has barely been concealed.

With the Samajwadi Party giving the Congress a run for its money over the Muslim vote, we have also witnessed bizarre promises of exempting Muslim educational institutions from the 'Right to Education' law and we had also witnessed brazen attempts at provoking Muslim outrage over Salman Rushdie's participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival.

With multiple analysts and observers of the ground situation in Uttar Pradesh predicting a 3 to 4 way split of the Muslim vote, it is clear that the Congress party is now in a last ditch attempt to raise the Narendra Modi bogey with an eye on the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh.

It is in this light we must see the events from last week when a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to look into the 2002 Gujarat riots cases reportedly submitted a sealed envelope to the designated magisterial court in Ahmedabad in connection with the Gulberg Society case.

The contents of the sealed envelope are not meant to be known to us, but there is already concerted speculation in the electronic media that has since been carried by the print media on the SIT finding no 'prosecutable evidence' against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi among others. There are already reports of pleas being filed to challenge the report whose contents are 'allegedly' meant to be confidential.

The SIT for weeks now has been the target of concerted and coordinated pressure from the Congress and its extended eco-system of Left Liberal NGO activists and media personalities. In what is clearly a deliberate attempt at coercing SIT into acting a certain way that suits the political agenda of the Congress there have been daily press releases, open letters and all sorts of inspired leaks.

In fact, it was bizarre to see the NGO activists claim specifically what kind of closure report the SIT was going to file and what line it was likely to toe. The timing of this sordid campaign through the media and through the offices of the Congress could not have been more dubious.

It comes as no surprise that the Congress has deliberately sought to bait SIT over the Gulberg Society case. It is unclear what factors SIT had been considering that it took so many months since the Supreme Court ordered it to bring this matter to a closure.

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Shashi Shekhar