News Analysis |
National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday dismissed allegations that the Congress colluded with Pakistan to defeat the BJP in the recently concluded assembly polls and stated categorically “Pakistan koi saazish nahi karta.” His assertion comes after the BJP survived a fearsome challenge in its home ground amid talks of the BJP using its neighbor as a punching bag for domestic politics.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister’s unequivocal defence of Pakistan came when he was asked for his take on a controversy that erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that his predecessor Manmohan Singh and senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had met with Pakistani officials over dinner and conspired to influence the state assembly elections.
According to independent analysts, the “Pakistan” bogeyman is routinely used by the BJP when it feels it is not performing amicably in the electoral process.
Scoffing at the PM’s charge, Abdullah said that Modi had gone to Pakistan for a meal when he paid a surprise visit to Lahore and attended former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter’s wedding ceremony. “Did the Pakistanis conspire against PM Modi back then?” Abdullah pointedly enquired. He then made the following assertion: “Pakistan koi saazish nahi karta (Pakistan doesn’t engage in conspiracies).”
#WATCH: On being asked if a conspiracy to defeat PM Modi in elections was made in Pakistan, Farooq Abdullah says, ‘he himself went to Pakistan,’ adds that, ‘Pakistan koi saazish nahi karta.’ pic.twitter.com/HGw94ltzuX
— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2017
Speaking at Palanpur in north Gujarat, Modi had claimed that a retired DG of the Pakistan Army, Arshad Rafiq, wanted to see Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Sonia Gandhi, as Gujarat CM, and former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri and their high commissioner had met Congress leaders.
The BJP survived a scare to scrape through in Gujarat, a saffron bastion for more than two decades. BJP’s win — its sixth in a row — ended up being closer than predicted by most exit polls.
“While there are discussions in Pakistan about making Ahmed Patel CM, Pakistan’s high commissioner, its former foreign minister, former PM Manmohan Singh, and former Vice-President (Hamid) Ansariji met at Mani Shankar Aiyar‘s house,” the PM said. “The next day, a statement was made that Modi is ‘neech’ (lowlife).”
The alleged meeting between Pakistani leaders saw Modi attack Congress in what came across as a bid to play the polarising card by sticking a “pro-Pak” label on Congress. Modi said the ‘secret meeting’ lasted three hours. “This is an issue of serious concern. We suffer a lot due to Pakistan’s actions, and you (the Congress) conducted meetings behind closed doors?” Modi said.
Nearly all named in Modi’s accusations were quick to condemn his unsubstantiated (till now) claims. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson tweeted, “India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate and win victories on own strength rather than fabricated conspiracies, which are utterly baseless and irresponsible.”
The former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also very measured in his response, he said he sincerely hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will apologise to the nation for suggesting that he (Dr. Singh) and others held a “secret meeting” with Pakistani officials at suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence to “influence” the outcome of the Gujarat elections.
Scoffing at the PM’s charge, Abdullah said that Modi had gone to Pakistan for a meal when he paid a surprise visit to Lahore and attended former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter’s wedding ceremony.
“I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister, Sh. Narender Modi. Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly & regrettably, Sh. Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former Prime Minister and Army Chief,” Dr. Singh said in a statement.
Two ex-diplomats who attended the dinner last Wednesday said discussions revolved around India-Pakistan ties only and the Gujarat elections were not discussed. Manmohan Singh was present during the discussions but “did not say a thing”, top sources said.
Pavan Verma of BJP ally the Janata Dal (United) has said the PM’s allegation on Pakistani interference “is taking it a little too far.” The BJP’s rebellious Shatrughan Sinha said it was “incredible,” also tweeting, “Hon’ble Sir! Just to win elections anyhow, and that too at the fag end of the process, is it a must to come up with & endorse new, unsubstantiated & unbelievable stories everyday against political opponents?”
The BJP survived a scare to scrape through in Gujarat, a saffron bastion for more than two decades. BJP’s win — its sixth in a row — ended up being closer than predicted by most exit polls, as the Congress landed 77 seats to the saffron party’s 99. According to independent analysts, the “Pakistan” bogeyman is routinely used by the BJP when it feels it is not performing amicably in the electoral process.