News Analysis |
The latest claims by Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi have been that his main political rival, the Indian National Congress, was colluding with archrival Pakistan to defeat him in the Gujarat state elections. This latest allegation has opened a storm of condemnations by both allies and foes and seemingly highlights the insecurity of the ruling party in its stronghold.
Speaking at Palanpur in north Gujarat on Sunday, Modi 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.
“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).”
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.
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.
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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.”
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.— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) December 11, 2017
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.
“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.
This latest allegation has opened a storm of condemnations by both allies and foes and seemingly highlights the insecurity of the ruling party in its stronghold.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dragging Pakistan into the Gujarat elections, saying that rather than talking about foreign countries in his election campaign speeches in Gujarat, the Prime Minister should say something about the State. “The Prime Minister talks sometimes about Pakistan and sometimes about China and Japan. Modiji, this is the election for the future of Gujarat. Talk something about Gujarat too,” Mr. Gandhi said while addressing an election rally in the Tharad Assembly constituency of Banaskantha district.
The Congress’s Anand Sharma has asked if permission needs to be sought now for a “casual dinner,” challenging the PM’s use of the term “secret meeting.” He sought an apology from the Prime Minister for what he called an outrageous charge. The Congress, Mr. Sharma said, will “force” the Prime Minister to apologise when the winter session of Parliament begins on Friday, December 15th.
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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?”
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? Now linking them to Pak High Commissioner & Generals?! Incredible!.1>2— Shatrughan Sinha (@ShatruganSinha) December 11, 2017
This is not the first time the BJP has used its neighbor as a demon to malign political opponents. During the 2014 elections that saw Modi rise to power, he asserted “Three AKs help Pakistan. AK-47 is used by terrorists who shed Indian blood…then there is AK Antony, the defence minister who says Indian soldiers were beheaded by persons wearing uniforms of Pakistan army, when the Army said clearly the soldiers were beheaded by Pakistan army men.” Mr. Modi, also alleged, “The third is AK 49 – he has just spawned a party and on his party’s official website he has given away Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.
The Congress’s Anand Sharma has asked if permission needs to be sought now for a “casual dinner,” challenging the PM’s use of the term “secret meeting.”
One of his associates says there should be a referendum in Kashmir. They are speaking Pakistan’s language.” In Bihar, which had a five-phase election, BJP president Amit Shah began invoking Pakistan midway through the polls.
He started saying that Pakistan would celebrate if the BJP lost the Bihar elections. The BJP still lost that election. 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. This seems true in the case of Gujarat where it is reeling from a semi revolt from former allies.