NEW DELHI (TIP): Congress is concerned that Rahul Gandhi has inserted anti-Sikh riots into the political discourse, shrinking its elbow room to attack Narendra Modi on the issue of anti-Muslim carnage. Rising protests from Sikh groups and the figuring of 1984 riots in news bulletins has put Congress in the firing line of the 1984 riots that was till now confined to individuals like Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.
Even in 2009, the drama over anti- Sikh riots was provoked by the limited issue of Congress giving election tickets to Kumar and Tytler before retracting. If the Sikh riots continue to dominate headlines, they could draw parity between Congress and BJP among opinion-makers and a defensive “secular” party would be hamstrung in raising the ante against Modi on the issue of riots. The key worry is the 1984 issue may now figure in every public interaction Modi makes and it would be difficult to duck the issue.
With each passing day that Congress is having to defend itself, there ruling camp feels it is losing its aggressive edge against Modi. It may be an advantage for the Hindutva strongman who is trying his best to soften his rough edges dating back to anti-Muslim riots and appear a moderate. This has implications for the postelection scenario given that BJP would be needing allies who have “secular” roots. That NCP is already making conciliatory noises in favour of the Gujarat chief minister is an eye-opener.
There is a sense of regret in Congress that Rahul could not tackle the question on riots effectively.While conceding too much ground, without putting Modi on the defensive on Gujarat riots, his ambivalent response prised open the 1984 issue for debate. Instead, he could have simply referred to the apologies issued by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 10 years ago. When cornered, he could have apologized in line with senior Congress leaders and settled the issue for good. Many in the party blame the poor background briefing to Rahul for the fiasco.
Now, there is hope that Rahul would make up for the lapse in the coming TV interviews that are lined up. While leaders are happy that the reluctant leader has finally decided to communicate with the public and interact with the press, they would want him to appear engaged. This when future interactions may not be easy to navigate now that he has bared the chinks in his armour. Amid the post-interview disappointment, a big plus for insiders is that he managed to keep his cool and did not walk out like Modi did with a famous TV anchor. It would have been disastrous PR in the present negative atmosphere.
COPS USE WATER CANNONS ON IRATE SIKH PROTESTORS
Rahul Gandhi’s remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riots triggered massive Sikh protest in the national capital
NEW DELHI (TIP): Over 300 irate Sikh protestors clashed with the police when their agitation over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots turned unruly outside the Congress party’s headquarters in Delhi. The agitators were protesting against the injustice perpetrated on Sikhs in the 1984 riots in Delhi and the slow pace of trial, following Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on the in an interview to a television channel.
The irate protestors, which mainly included Delhi Sikh Gurudwara committee and Shiromani Akali Dal party members, demanded an apology from the Gandhi scion who said in the interview that ‘some Congressmen were probably involved in the 1984 riots’. Rahul had said in the interview that the Congress government at the time tried its best “to stop the killing” during the riots. The Sikh protesters demanded that he should reveal the names of party leaders involved in the massacre. The protesters waved black flags and climbed onto the barricades placed outside the Congress headquarters by the cops who found it difficult to defuse the protest.
Water cannons were later used by the cops on the Sikh protesters to quell the agitation. Earlier, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal too had lashed out at the Congress for “protecting” party leaders involved in the 1984 riots. He reportedly said that instead of taking any action against the tainted leaders, Congress has not only been protecting them but they were being rewarded by the party with pivotal posts.