National

Modi-Rahul word war over saffron terror

Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s name has been spotted again in newly released Wikileaks cables. However, this time the ‘in-focus’ person is Rahul Gandhi and not Narendra Modi. This is because, according to Wikileaks cable, Rahul Gandhi told American Ambassador in India last year that Hindu extremism was a bigger threat than Lashkar-e-Taiyaba!!!! Rahul is now under fire for his controversial and highly offending statement.

Following is the part of the cable that involves Rahul Gandhi’s controversial statement. At one place Narendra Modi’s name has been mentioned in reference by the ambassador.

Monday, 03 August 2009, 14:29 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 001624 SIPDIS EO 12958 DECL: 08/03/2019 TAGS PREL, PGOV, IN SUBJECT: REACHING OUT TO RAHUL GANDHI AND OTHER YOUNG PARLIAMENTARIANS REF: SECTO 0008 Classified By:  AMB Timothy J. Roemer. Reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (C) Summary: In a candid conversation with the Ambassador during the July 20 lunch hosted by Prime Minister Singh for the Secretary, Indian Congress Party General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi described his focus on upcoming state and local elections, expressed concerns regarding the challenges surrounding the UPA coalition’s ability to implement its programs, and speculated about radicalization among Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi was interested in engaging with the Ambassador and could become a key interlocutor, along with other young members of Parliament, as we pursue a Strategic Dialogue with India. End Summary.
2. (C) During the Secretary’s July 20 meetings in New Delhi (see reftel), Prime Minister Singh hosted a lunch in honor of the Secretary. Among the invitees was Indian Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, as well as other prominent figures from politics, business and civil society. Gandhi, who was seated next to the Ambassador, shared his views on a range of political topics, social challenges, and electoral issues for the Congress Party in the next five years.
5. (C) Responding to the Ambassador’s query about Lashkar-e-Toiba’s activities in the region and immediate threat to India, Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community. However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community. (Comment: Gandhi was referring to the tensions created by some of the more polarizing figures in the BJP such as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.)

The risk of a “home-grown” extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention.

Wikileaks cable of year 2007(from American ambassador in India to the U.S. department of state) is interesting. Though the Gujarat part of this cable is mostly in reference to Gujarat’s 2007 assembly election, the important and interesting part is that the cable shows how America looked at Gujarat, Gujarat Congress, and Narendra Modi. Another interesting observation is that the United States was closely monitoring Gujarat assembly election in 2007.

How America looked at Gujarat in 2007

  • Gujarat election result are crucial to whether Congress Party moves forward with the nuclear agreement.
  • Gujarat is a large state, with 26 seats in Parliament.
  • Gujarat is a prosperous state which is leading the Indian economic resurgence.
  • Gujarat is one of the most “saffron” states in the country.
  • Narendra Modi is the poster boy of anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist ideology.
  • The Gujarat unit of the Congress Party is weak and poorly organized.
  • It is because of the importance the Congress Party attaches to Gujarat that it is bringing in its top leaders to campaign in the state.
  • Gujarat Elections Holds the Key: Complete text of the Gujarat part of the leaked cable Tuesday, 06 November 2007, 13:18 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 004881 SIPDIS SIPDIS EO 12958 DECL: 11/05/2017 TAGS PREL, PARM, TSPL, KNNP, ETTC, ENRG, TRGY, IN SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE, GUJARAT ELECTIONS KEY TO GOI APPROACH ON US-INDIA NUCLEAR DEAL REF: A. NEW DELHI 4857 B. NEW DELHI 4842 C. NEW DELHI 4835 D. NEW DELHI 4823 E. NEW DELHI 4803 F. NEW DELHI 4764 G. NEW DELHI 4763 H. MUMBAI  604 I. NEW DELHI 4720 J. NEW DELHI 4638 K. NEW DELHI 4616 L. NEW DELHI 4589 Classified By: Ted Osius for Reasons 1.4 (B and D) Gujarat Elections Holds the Key(title of the Gujarat part of the cable).


(C) Embassy agrees with many observers who believe that if the Parliamentary debate is a draw, the  Gujarat election result in December are crucial to whether Congress Party moves forward with the nuclear agreement. Gujarat is a large state, with 26 seats in Parliament. It is a prosperous state which is leading the Indian economic resurgence. It is also one of the most “saffron” states in the country.
The BJP has won the last five state assembly elections. It crushed the Congress in 2002 in a lop-sided win in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.
By most accounts, Narendra Modi, the poster boy of anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist ideology, has an edge to retain his Chief Minister position for a third straight time (Ref C and H). The state unit of the Congress Party is weak and poorly organized.

10. (C) If the Congress Party can put in a healthy performance to make a dent in this BJP bastion, observers believe the Congress Party will feel politically strong to risk (or even call) a mid-term national poll. In this case, the Prime Minister and the Congress Party would challenge the Left parties by moving forward with the IAEA on the safeguards agreement.

It is because of the importance the Congress Party attaches to Gujarat that it is bringing in its top leaders to campaign in the state. Sonia Gandhi launched the campaign over the weekend in Anand, Gujarat. Rahul Gandhi is expected to campaign in the state. If, on the other hand, the Congress Party is trampled again in Gujarat and fails to improve on its 48 seats (out of 182 total seats in the assembly), it will feel vulnerable and will not be tempted to risk early elections. It will then require extraordinary political courage for the UPA to carry out the IAEA talks, which place its full term in office in jeopardy.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2011 on page no. 10

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