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Congress’ dangerous games: Distancing itself publicly while giving tacit support to its leaders fraternising with the enemy

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who triggered a huge controversy from the moment he showed a keen interest in attending Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in Pakistan and later when Pakistan contradicted his claims regarding the Kartarpur sacred corridor, is now again in the eye of the storm after he refused to comment on Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s speech on the occasion of Pakistan’s Defence and Martyrs’ Day on Thursday.

Bajwa had “vowed to avenge the blood being shed on the border of the country”, and said the Pakistani Army had been ‘valiant’ during the wars of 1965 and 1971.

The aman-ka-tamasha has gone on for as long as one can remember. But after Prime Minister Modi assumed office in 2014, Congress and its functionaries seem to have found an ally in Pakistan after the people of India abandoned them electorally. Sidhu, who had proudly proclaimed that he has “Congress blood” running in his veins and had touched Sonia Gandhi’s feet during the plenary session of Congress is the latest addition to the litany of Congress leaders who are now seen cosying up to the enemy.

Sidhu had clearly displayed his Pakistan love (a country which has always been hostile towards India and uses state-sponsored terrorism as a weapon against India), by extending the ‘controversial hug’ towards General Bajwa and by sitting beside the President of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) at the event. He was highly criticised by many.

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Undeterred by the criticism, Sidhu was brisk in glorifying the Pakistan government, now led by ‘Taliban Khan’, by thanking them for the “noble gesture” of making the corridor available for the pilgrimage.

His intentions were questioned. His party was questioned. But Sidhu remained steadfast in his love for ‘Taliban Khan’. Many even wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Saying perhaps, it was owing to his cricketing history that he was warm towards Imran Khan. But today, the benefits fade away and only doubts remain as he coyly said “no comments” when General Bajwa indulged in shaming India while indulging in state-sponsored terrorism against the country.

Just as a leopard doesn’t change his spots, Congress and its leaders fraternising with the enemy should come as no surprise.

On several previous occasions, Congress has publicly pretended to disassociate with comments that toed Pakistan’s line but ironically has always chosen to maintain silence when their leaders fraternise with Pakistan’s functionaries which is often, almost always, in direct conflict with India’s interests.

Sidhu’s decision to visit Pakistan was defended by Congress. It was called ‘a step in the right direction’. The Congress also dismissed criticism about Sidhu not just attending Khan’s swearing-in at a time of national mourning over the demise of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee but also hugging the Pakistan Army Chief.

Sidhu’s shenanigans aren’t very different from Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid who created a squabble over their remarks in Pakistan criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Then too, Congress supported its leaders.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Congress leader who is supposed to be close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and has been known for his pro-Pakistan statements, courted controversy when he hailed Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his role in the freedom movement and even referred to him as ‘Quaid-e-Azam’. In a bid to defend his statements on Jinnah, he later praised Pakistan for its ‘tolerance’ and prevailing conditions to express his views.

The Congress party’s ‘suspension’ of Mani Shankar Aiyar had then come across as a sham in a bid to control the damage by Rahul Gandhi and was eventually proved right as nine months after this pretence the Congress party chose to revoke the suspension of this party member who has been a frequent visitor to Pakistan and has not shied away from expressing his love for the terror state, Pakistan.

In a similar incident earlier, the controversial Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had stirred a row by calling the surgical strikes against Pakistan, ‘fake’ and has asked the BJP government to provide proof. That time too, the Congress was quick in exhibiting its pretence. On one hand, displaying their disapproval by distancing themselves from Sanjay Nirupam’s comment saying that the “Congress doesn’t agree with the statements made by Sanjay Nirupam, we have taken a serious note of it” and “The Congress fully trusts the Indian Army,” while on the other hand, advising the Government of India to share evidence to prove that the surgical strike had indeed been carried out. Remarkably, right at the same time, Pakistan was demanding for proof as well.

It will be somehow justifiable if we believe that the Congress has a special proclivity towards Pakistan. Congress has always been inspired by Pakistan at a deeper, stronger level. Their behaviour has in fact been a subtle, slow reflection of Pakistan’s ideologies. Considering this, it is not surprising that not only the out-on-bail Congressman, Shashi Tharoor stood firmly by his ‘Hindu Pakistan’ remarks, but even his party refused to openly condemn it. They just gave an excuse that the remarks were made in Tharoor’s personal capacity.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also charged Congress withholding a secret meeting with Pakistan delegates. The charges were earlier refuted by the Congress and later after a long spell of silence, a shoddy explanation was provided. Similarly, last year, after repeated denials Congress had accepted Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the Chinese ambassador amid a border row with China.

Why would India’s principal opposition party meet envoys from Pakistan and China at all? And if they do meet, why should the agenda remain hushed behind closed doors and not revealed to the public. What is the public supposed to assume when Congres leader goes all out to hail Pakistan, because of whose hostility several Indian Jawans and innocent have had to sacrifice their lives, and urges Pakistan to help them ‘remove Modi’ and in the next breath, the Congress has also been viewed holding ‘secret meetings’ with Pakistan envoy?

Sidhu’s drama will hurt the Congress but no more than its own predisposition to being sympathetic towards anyone who might help them regain power, even if the very sanctity of the nation was at stake.

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