In desperate gamble, PM links Pak to Gujarat polls

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Common protocol required that the Pakistan high commissioner be invited to the dinner.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is felicitated at a rally in Surendranagar, Gujarat. (Photo: PTI)

It is evident that in the Gujarat election campaign the BJP has been too embarrassed to tout the achievements of the so-called Gujarat model of development. The reason: the “development” claims simply do not add up.

Ordinarily, political parties campaign hard and wait for results. Not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has seen it fit to practically accuse former PM Manmohan Singh and recently retired vice-president Hamid Ansari, and others, of treason.

The charge is that in a “secret” meeting at the residence of Mani Shankar Aiyar in New Delhi last week, these people conspired with Pakistan’s high commissioner in India to bring down the Modi government.

Observers note that over more than two decades of BJP rule in the state, the deep-going Hindutva preaching by BJP-RSS appears to have left a patina of Hindu communal beliefs across social layers. It is to this the BJP election campaign has repeatedly appealed as an invaluable resource, more markedly so in this election and by none other than the PM himself.

Linking the Congress to the Muslim community exclusively is an old ploy of polarising the votes of Hindu-born citizens, but Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seems to have practically neutralised the propaganda through his temple visits. The logical next stop is Pakistan, and Mr Modi has taken the lead in trying to link top Congress individuals to a Pakistan-inspired effort to topple the Modi regime — surely a dream plot for spy thrillers.

It transpires Mr Aiyar’s principal guest was former Pakistan foreign minister Mahmud Ahmed Kasuri. The two were friends from their Cambridge days. As foreign minister, Mr Kasuri had worked to bring the two countries closer. Mr Aiyar has been very active in Track II processes designed to break the ice between India and Pakistan. Common protocol required that the Pakistan high commissioner be invited to the dinner.

From what’s been reported, the Indian guests included former minister K. Natwar Singh (long estranged from the Congress), a retired Army chief, retired foreign secretary Salman Haidar, a pair of former Indian high commissioners to Pakistan (recently retired), besides Dr Singh and

Mr Ansari. It appears the former PM showed up just for the dinner in honour of Mr Kasuri and was not a part of the informal discussion on India-Pakistan relations.

This dinner has been converted into a “secret” meeting by Mr Modi in a stump speech on Sunday, and the pre-dinner conversation into a “conspiracy”. The PM is not a fringe player. The allegation made by him logically leads to a demand for a trial for treason against the Indians at the dinner, a summary expulsion of the Pakistan high commissioner and a formal breaking of ties with the neighbouring country, besides an interrogation of the Prime Minister for the source of his information.