Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s four-day visit to Germany and United Kingdom has been eventful as his overseas visits normally are, with his penchant for putting his proverbial foot in his mouth. His latest speech at an interaction with British parliamentarians in London, however, took the cake.
A good 34 years after the unfortunate anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi and many other parts of the country in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Rahul has woken up to claim that the Congress party was not involved in the riots. This is after mounds of evidence pointing at the involvement of Congress leaders like Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Singh, late H K L Bhagat and Kamal Nath, among others, and the fact that it was the Congress party that was in power at the Centre at that time.
In 2005, the Nanavati Commission report had named several Congress leaders for responsibility in the riots and soon after the report was tabled in Parliament the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had “apologised to the Sikh community” on behalf of the government.
Rahul acknowledged in London that the anti-Sikh riots were a “tragedy” and a “painful experience”, but strangely added that the Congress party was not involved in them. It is no surprise that Rahul’s statement drew an immediate response from the Akali Dal which accused the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family of “rubbing salt into the wounds of the Sikh community.”
With the Lok Sabha elections due in a few months, Rahul’s gaffe would become a stick to beat the Congress with for the Akalis and the BJP, especially in Punjab where tempers run high among Sikhs for the fact that justice has eluded them despite 34 years having elapsed since the riots.
Rahul’s is indeed a classic case of indiscretion which will cost the Congress dear.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s defence of Rahul, saying that he was a mere 13 or 14 years old at that time, cuts no ice because of the shocking statement of Rahul at this point when he is expected to know what he must say and what he should not.
The other major bloomer by Rahul Gandhi in Hamburg, Germany was distinguishable by its audacity. In reference to terror group ISIS, he linked it with the BJP which he said had excluded sections like tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative in India. Was he trying to rationalise the misdeeds of a terror outfit like ISIS?
The BJP would indeed be chuckling with glee at Rahul’s indiscretions.