The Congress party, in the past, has used terms that are deeply offensive to large sections of the Hindu population.
After the announcement of the verdict in the Mecca Masjid blast case that dates back to 2007, spokespersons of the Congress party have been at pains to emphasise that their party never used the terms ‘Hindu terror’ or ‘saffron terror’.
True to form, some Congress spokespersons and supporters have also been retweeting and plugging links from journals with known anti-BJP credentials like The Caravan to somehow try and show that the investigation was compromised.
But they forget that the investigation in the present case had been completed by the NIA during the tenure of UPA-2, and the chargesheet had been filed against the accused persons within four months of the BJP coming to power at the Centre.
The statute under which the NIA has been established also states very clearly that the same would remain under the superintendence of the central government. Hence, it seems that the Congress party is running around like a headless chicken as usual. Is this a mea culpa by India’s grand old party?
The larger concern that the party needs to address is whether its usage of the terms ‘Hindu terror’, ‘saffron terror’, or even ‘Hindutva terror’ amounts to Hinduphobia or not. This piece shall also attempt to lay to rest the absolute canard spread by the Congress party that people in responsible positions in their party have never used the aforementioned phrases in the first place.
A Wikileaks cable dating back to 2010 does indeed record Rahul Gandhi telling former US ambassador Timothy Roemer that “the bigger threat (to India) may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community”. The double standards of the Congress party are palpable here. While we are subjected to homilies about how terror has no religion every time there is a terror attack perpetrated by a terrorist professing allegiance to Islam, here we are told that extremists who belong to the ‘Hindu’ faith are a ‘threat’ to India.
Furthermore, in August 2010, the party’s Hinduphobia came to the fore once again when P. Chidambaram, who was the country’s home minister in August 2010, told intelligence officials to be wary of what he termed as ‘saffron terror’. To all adherents of Indic religions including Sikhs and Buddhists, the colour saffron is something that has religious sentiments associated with it. Hence, even this reference is palpably offensive.
A similar statement was made by Sushil Kumar Shinde towards the end of his tenure, which was then almost immediately retracted under immense pressure from the opposition. The question that we somewhere need to answer is when the commentariat throughout the world, like in this piece here, rightly calls out the most powerful man in the world for conflating and not differentiating between ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’, why do our commentators not extend the same benefit of doubt to adherents of the Hindu religion and allow the Congress party’s blatant and unabashed Hinduphobia to go unchallenged?
Furthermore, as far as the usage of the term ‘Hindutva’ is concerned, it might be instructive to examine the observations made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its eponymous full bench decision in the case of Ramesh Yashwant Prabhoo v. Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte and Others.
They are as follows: “These Constitution Bench decisions, after a detailed discussion, indicate that no precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Hinduism’; and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage.
“It is also indicated that the term ‘Hindutva’ is related more to the way of life of the people in the subcontinent. It is difficult to appreciate how in the face of these decisions the term ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ per se, in the abstract, can be assumed to mean and be equated with narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry.”
We can come to only one inescapable conclusion — that the usage of the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindutva’ or ‘saffron’ in relation to descriptions of alleged acts of terror, which responsible members of the Congress party have indulged in in the past, is offensive to large sections of the Hindu population.
Now that the judiciary has busted the canard of the Congress party with regard to the involvement of members of the Hindu community in large scale acts of terror, the incumbent party president needs to apologise to the Hindu community for defaming them.
Raghav Awasthi is an advocate and an RSS member.