The churning in the Congress

By K.N. Pandita (from July 4, 2019)

Rahul Gandhi’s resignation issue in the aftermath of Congress’ second consecutive defeat in the parliamentary election was dramatized for several weeks, albeit unnecessarily. People in the country and especially several rungs of the Congress hierarchy knew he had no option but to be out. Rahul tried to win as much sympathy as he could from the younger generation in his organization which is evident was noticed when he mentioned that some senior Congress leaders were pushing their wards, obviously against his wishes because he did not like the path blocked for the younger Congressmen.

The resignation dramatics and the grand finale made it clear that there is deep dissension within the party and the elders are loath to slacken off the fist. The revolt within has been brewing for quite some time and when the debacle happened, everybody wanted to pass the buck to the more vulnerable.

The crushing defeat suffered by Congress should have taught its leaders to make some introspection and an unemotional analysis of its weak points. Essentially, the long inning for so many decades had created an impression with Congressmen that an alternative to Congress was unimaginable with the Indian voter. They became over-confident and also haughty and in many cases arrogant as well.

Congress has done a good service to the nation during the heyday of its power. The economic progress that we see today in our country is the result of Congress’ contribution and service. The Congress in power might have made some mistakes also that caused harm to the nation but after all nobody can claim to be infallible. What pushed Congress out of public favour is widespread corruption eating into its vitals. The malaise became uncontrollable because the Congress leadership itself was not without blemish. Secondly, a clique in the Congress High Command ruled the roost. Intoxicated with political and money power, it failed to realize that its main opponent, BJP, was out to play the Hindu Sanskriti card on a massive scale something that had been unwisely put under the carpet by Congress stalwarts beginning with Nehru. The labeling of Hindu Sanskriti with “Hindu terror as greater threat” was a blunder that cost Congress very direly. Of course, it is Hindu revivalism but not in negative terms so as to be equated with global jihadist movement. Congress should have done some academic exercise to understand the roots of Hindu civilization before distorting and disfiguring it only to serve its narrow political objectives. The opposition cannot be blamed for exploiting the willing or unwilling ignorance of Congress ideologues on this subject. In politics, care has to be taken against the adversary turning the other end of the stick towards you.

Congress has lost the lofty ideals of nation-building, the deft handling of delicate values of a secular democratic dispensation and the astute fairness in disallowing bureaucracy tamper with democratic institutions. Worst, the Congress in the days of its sunset, tried to manipulate the judiciary and even the Supreme Court of India, the custodian of the law and righteousness of the world’s largest democracy.

By raising a clique around the Congress High Command, which ironically is nowhere near to what is understood by “high command” in a political party, Congress degenerated into a laconically stretched-out dynastic icon with no qualms of conscience in putting a seal to the theft and loot of the national exchequer by those who were enjoying the spoils of power. Congress weakened crucial democratic institutions in the country. The scurvy treatment which Congress “High Command” meted out to great nationalists like Narasimha Rao, APJ Kalam, Sitaram Kesri and others was tantamount at cutting the very roots of democracy. Secularism was trivialized and abused and the civil society was exposed to communal sickness.

Rahul Gandhi should have addressed these deficiencies soon after Congress was miserably ousted in 2014. Its second ouster in 2019 has put a very big question mark on its survival in its traditional form. The first and perhaps the most definite outcome is that after seventy long years, the dynastic rule in independent India has come to an ignominious end and its founder’s statesmanship stands exposed to doubt and distrust.

Gravely inexperienced in statecraft and recklessly ill-advised by his cronies, Rahul conducted his election campaign during 2019 in an incredibly unsophisticated manner not behoving the President of the historical grand old party called Indian National Congress. Not even an uncouth school boy would stoop low to call the Prime Minister of India “chor”, “chowkidar”, “chai wala” etc. And while Rahul went on making himself the laughing stock by chanting this mantra, he did not even have the slightest inkling that all this was boomeranging on him.

A very decisive argument which BJP marshaled most effectively was to profile Congress as the party of the elite but adversarial to the poor, the Dalit and the backward masses of India. By stigmatizing Modi as “chaewala” he did the greatest harm to his party and to his person. This reflects the haughtiness of Congress and its adversaries made enormous gain by recounting to their audience the words of Nehru that “ I am the last British ruler of India.” It was Rahul who gave ammunition to his enemies and they used it befittingly.

Congress is going through a great churning never experienced in the past. It is breaking each day each hour. A party that could have performed a historic role while sitting in opposition and immensely strengthened Indian democracy is down and flat owing to its own intransigence. Indian voters did not forget or forgive Congress for disrupting, nay paralyzing previous Parliament’s business for several years by misusing its majority in the Rajya Sabha. People of India did not forget that the mahagathbandan was nothing but a vendetta springing from loss of political power. Against who was the grand alliance? It was against the government and the Prime Minister who had come to power through a majority vote. People of India were convinced that the Grand Alliance was against their wishes and against the democratic dispensation. They decided to uphold democracy against these divisive and disruptive powers.

The chances of revival of Congress are bleak if drastic and unprecedented changes leading to grand purge are not taken. Rahul has quit but he must also quit the hegemonic mentality which he has inherited historically. The so-called High Command has to be liquidated. Old guards must retire and leave the younger leadership alone. They should not pose as the patriarchs without whose guidance the party will commit Himalayan blunders. Above all, the party must change its mindset from considering the opposition as its enemies and Congress desiring to be the sole ruling entity in India. The test of a drastic change will be in identifying those who are patently corrupt in the party and the money they have stolen has to be brought back not through the government instrumentality but by them voluntarily as recompense to their treacherous role in looting the exchequer of the nation. India is a civilizational Leviathan and it has eighty per cent Hindu population. You have tasted the result of abusing and humiliating the majority community by claiming that you are from Dattatarya Kaul gotra. Please look inside. If these measures are not taken, the words of Modi viz. “Congress mukt Bharat” (India minus Congress), will become the gospel truth.

India – Iran relations under stress

By K.N. Pandita (from July 2, 2019)

The US has withdrawn from the US-Iran nuclear deal arguing that the deal is imbalanced and inequitable. Iran says she has stuck to the terms of the deal but would resumption of enrichment of uranium for manufacturing nuclear device since the US has broken the deal. The US is determined to coerce Iran into abandoning enrichment of uranium. One coercive tactics used by the US is of imposing sanctions on Iranain oil supplies. She has warned major oil customers of Iran like China, India and Japan not to buy Iranian oil because it alleges Iran uses oil booty to fuel terrorism sponsored by Iranian terrorists in the Middle East.

India is on the horns of dilemma. Iran is her major supplier of oil and she is among the oil hungry developing countries. It is said that the US has promised to provide India with nuclear energy to supplement her energy requirements. It may be so, but the question is of relations with an ancient country with which India is bound by numerous ties.

With the rise of a theocratic regime in Teheran, and the type of radicalism it espoused, two countries namely the US and Saudi Kingdom came directly into the focus of its impact. Iran’s hatred for the US is rooted in how the US brazenly suppressed the populist Musaddegh-led leftist movement of 1950s. Iran felt that the US was obstructing her aspiration of nationalizing the oil industry, the backbone of her economy. The Shah played in the hands of his American handlers but only to lose his crown and the kingdom at the end of the day.

Iran’s race-based and ethno-sectarian rivalry with the Saudis is almost proverbial. She labeled the Saudi monarchs as the stooge of America that wants to impose its hegemony on the entire Gulf region. India did not find it necessary to question Khumeini’s political philosophy. However, when he pontificated that Islamists had their religious duty to replace all world religions with Islam, India looked at Islamic Iran with caution because a vast majority of Indian Muslims professes the Shia’ faith.

Theocratic Iran’s animus against Israel, a country with which she does not have a common border or a clash of commercial interests, is for two reasons. One is that Iran thinks the majority of Jewish members in the American Congress play a crucial role in consolidating American-Saudi camaraderie to the detriment of Iran. Many top American business magnates and oil barons have huge economic interests in the oil-rich Gulf. The second reason is that knowing the Arab nations are soft-paddling with the State of Israel; Iranian clergy want to tell the Muslim world that they are more Islamic than any other Islamic state despite descending from non-Semitic ethnicity.

Notwithstanding the nitty-gritty of Islamic Republic of Iran’s political and religious prognosis, India adopted the route of trade and commerce for perpetuating her ties with the important Gulf nation without getting mired into her religion-political entanglement.. Of course, India’s first priority was uninterrupted oil supplies from Iran. Iran’s trade with India exceeded US$13 billion in 2007, an 80 per cent increase in trade volume within a year. Trade conducted via third party countries such as the UAE this figure reaches $30 billion.

With crude oil imports from Iran increasing by 16.5 per cent, Iran emerged as India’s second largest oil supplier. About 40 per cent of the refined oil consumed by India is imported from Iran. In June 2009, Indian oil companies announced their plan to invest US$ 5 billion in developing an Iranian gas field in the Persian Gulf. Taking note of expanding oil trade between India and Iran, in 2010 the US officials warned New Delhi that Indian companies using the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) for financial transactions with Iran run the risk of violating a recent US law that bans international firms from doing business with Iranian banks and her oil and gas sector and that Indian companies dealing with Iran in this manner may be barred from the US. The United States criticized the ACU of insufficient transparency and suspected the assets being funneled to “blacklisted repressive organizations”.

This made the Reserve Bank of India issue instructions to the country’s lenders to stop processing current-account transactions with Iran using the ACU channel. Notwithstanding this hurdle, India objected to further American sanctions on Iran in 2010 and stated that she would continue to invest in Iranian oil and do business. An Indian foreign policy strategist dismissed the idea that a nuclear armed Iran was a threat to India. Despite increased pressure by the US and the EU and a significant reduction in oil imports from Iranian oil fields in 2012, leading political figures in India stated that they were not willing to stop trade relations altogether. To the contrary, they aimed at expanding the commodity trade with the Islamic republic.

Though the overall history of Indo-Iranian relationship is not dull and unsavory yet there have been intermittent periods of closeness as well as of distancing from each other temporarily. This is owing to the complexities arising out of shifting strategic, economic and political interests. Developing countries have gone through variegated experiences and have also learnt how to harmonize their national interests with the harshness of the realpolitik.

A terrorist state clamouring for peace

By K.N. Pandita

Hours before leaving for the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet, Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview to Sputnik, a Russian news agency, blew hot and cold in the same breath. He began his interview like an astute statesman but at the end sadly watered down all the logic by crying foul against India on Kashmir. Did Pak army’s Zarb-i-azab operation in North Waziristan backfire in which nearly 70 thousand people including about 8 thousand troopers were slaughtered? No, and Pak army was happy to receive accolades from the Pentagon for the killings. Continue Reading…

India – Iran: riding the crest of political commotion

By K.N. Pandita

India and Iran, the two Asiatic neighbours are the inheritors of a rich and ancient civilization. Their peoples trace ethnic commonality in the Aryan saga of the hoary past. Their dialects are sourced in the Vedic Sanskrit. Continue Reading…

Emerging political scenario in the sub-continent

By K.N. Pandita

Days ahead of the parliamentary election in our country, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan remarked in a press briefing that with a right-wing government in New Delhi chances for the resumption of Indo-Pak talks would brighten. As such, the landslide victory of BJP and Narendra Modi – led government would be a consolation for Imran peaceniks in Pakistan. Continue Reading…

Does Pakistan realize its compulsions?

By K.N. Pandita

With financial crunch tightening its stranglehold with each passing day, Islamabad is re-evaluating some fundamentals of its domestic and foreign policy with which country’s economic stability is closely liked. Continue Reading…

Letter to the Editor – Inspiration from Notre Dame

Daily Excelsior

Dear Sir

Apropos B.L. Saraf’s “Ram Janam Bhumi …..etc. (DE 29 April). The author rightly apologizes for comparing the otherwise incomparable two civilizational icons of Ram temple and Notre Dame but fortunately hastens to seek protection behind Victor Hugo’s altruism of “learning the art of seeing.” In the first place, Notre Dame was built by a nation that knew how to fight or die for keeping the nation free including its historical and cultural vestiges whereas Ram Janam temple was destroyed by a people who considered it their religious duty to destroy the vestiges of their ancestral civilization because their new faith was anchored elsewhere thousands of miles away from their motherland. I appreciate the courage of the writer questioning the authority and status of the lawmakers and law enforcing agencies in the country in asking for the proof of the existence of their civilizational icon. The irrefutable proof is the millennia-old faith of millions of Indians to the civilizational icon. Does not Ramayana precede the biographical works (siyar) on Muhammad? The difference is that while the French philanthropist calls Notre Dame a part of French life, the slave-nation syndrome defenders call Babri Masjid the part of an invader’s history. I wish legal luminaries in our country could read and understand what Shri Saraf has said in carefully chosen phraseology.

K.N. Pandita

India-Pakistan: Back from the brink of war

By K.N. Pandita

Issue to be discussed

In this article we shall discuss the escalation of tension between two Asian nuclear power states of India and Pakistan. They have been at loggerheads ever since the partition of India in August 1947 and the creation of a new State of Pakistan out of the western land mass. Actually, two Pakistans were created; the Western Pakistan which is the present–day Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Eastern Pakistan – separated by thousands of miles from the western Pakistan. The Eastern Pakistan rose in revolt in 1971 and separated from its western wing to establish the independent state of Bangladesh. Continue Reading…

India enters global space club

By K.N. Pandita

India scientist made a spectacular success in demonstrating their capability of indigenously developing the missile-based anti-satellite weapon called Shakti. It was successfully tested and the identified satellite in the space was hit with precision and destroyed. The scientists, the defence department and the entire government were excited on this achievement so much so that the Prime Minister Modi took the unusual decision of himself announcing the country’s great achievement in providing a weapon that will ensure the space security of India by destroying the possible satellite based attack. Continue Reading…

Some tightrope walking for China

By K.N. Pandita

The Western bloc had given sufficient indications that it would not take China’s brow-beating for granted. Hindsight shows that China has overplayed its veto card and has given rise to circumstances where the chances of its isolation in the international community can no more be stonewalled. Continue Reading…

Non-military pre-emptive strike

By K.N. Pandita

World community’s moral support to India for her air strike on terrorist camps across the LoC is the manifestation of bilateral and multilateral commitment of world powers to fight the menace of terrorism. It was neither aggression nor an offensive action; it was simply a preventive venture because the Jaish had more nefarious designs up its sleeve owing to the support it was receiving from the Generals of Pakistan army. Continue Reading…

World community’s rebuff to Pakistan

By K.N. Pandita

Nothing could be more farcical than the missive Pakstani foreign minister has sent to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday last seeking his help to “reduce the tensions between the two countries”. Raising alarm over the threat of India attacking Pakistan, the foreign minister has, in his letter, alerted the UN Secretary General that the security situation was fast declining in the region. He says that he writes with a sense of urgency. Interestingly, the foreign minister has underlined that the Pulwama suicide attack was “ostensibly and even by Indian accounts carried out by a Kashmiri resident.” He goes on to argue that India has heightened tension to fulfil its domestic political agenda. Continue Reading…

Developments in POK and Gilgit Baltistan, Implications for India

By K.N. Pandita

Legal status

In 1939, Muslim Conference was rechristened as National Conference to accommodate non-Muslim segment into the political struggle and structure of the State. In July 1947, Muslim Conference had passed a resolution demanding the merger of the State with Pakistan – the new dominion about to emerge with the transfer of power. The resolution was passed in the house of Sardar Ibrahim Khan despite opposition by some members including Chowdhuri Ghulam Abbas. Continue Reading…

South Asian nuclear power in a debt trap

By K.N. Pandita

It sounds ludicrous that Pakistan, a South Asian nuclear power, is caught in a debt trap and is beating every nerve to be bailed out. Amusingly, the debt trap is laid out by none other than a country which she proudly calls all-weather friend. Nevertheless, it is not the first time that Pakistan is faced with financial crunch. Continue Reading…

A mystery called the Third Front

By K.N. Pandita

This autumn in general and this week, in particular, saw high political drama being enacted in the summer capital of the eState. As the day was drawing near when Governor’s rule had either to go or get extended for another term, hectic activity was going on behind the curtain in which political permutation and combination were passionately discussed. Those who had to bear the maximum disappointment and developmental deficit were the people of State on the whole. Continue Reading…

The lament of pseudo-secularists

By K.N. Pandita

The word “secularism” is of western origin. It emerged from the concept that the church is separate from the state. The parameters of democracy set forth by western political philosophers established that religion was a personal matter and should not be allowed to shape the political ideology of the people. Those who believed in it and also practised it were called secularists. Continue Reading…

Is Imran riding the tiger?

By K.N. Pandita

For three days there was shut down, disruption of law and order, rampage and unleashing of violence and anger in the length and breadth of Pakistan following the radio broadcast of PM Imran Khan. He tried to his agitated compatriots a sane and sensible advice in the context of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Asia Bibi case of blasphemy. Continue Reading…

Letter to the Editor

Daily Excelsior

Kindly refer to ‘Rahul Gandhi- Not the next PM’ by B.L. Saraf (DE Oct 30). The Congressites who have directly or indirectly left open the question of the driver behind the wheel are staunch family loyalists. Continue Reading…

Pakistan Constitution and Human Rights: inherent contradiction

By K.N. Pandita

UN Secretary General, now on a visit to India, pontificates that India should take care of human rights in Kashmir. It shows he is not well informed on the history of Kashmir issuer or is under pressure from Pakistani and Islamic lobby. The right thing for him to do was to visit Pakistan and go deep into the human rights situation in that country. Let us summaries it for his quick reading and understanding. Continue Reading…

Good will dialogue before political dialogue

By K.N. Pandita

As India announced cancellation of the proposed foreign ministers’ sit together on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Pakistani media has gone berserk in bringing accusations against India that she is not interested in contributing to peace process in the region. The Pakistani media hype is meant to convince the world community and perhaps the US as well, that India is the source of disquiet in the region. Continue Reading…