As the Rajasthan’s state assembly election campaign reaches its last leg with all the political parties fighting it out till their last breath, the Congress, who has a penchant to indulge in caste-based politics, is trying to use the death of Anandpal Singh, the most wanted gangster, who was celebrated among Rajputs and considered their ‘messiah’ (redeemer).
Reports have emerged that the mother of the slain gangster, Nirmala Kanwar is likely to contest either as a Congress candidate or an independent candidate supported by the Congress in the Rajasthan Assembly elections.
In its latest gimmick, the Congress has also been seen using the slain’s daughter to further their agenda, which thrives on dividing people on the basis of caste, against the BJP. The Congress strategises to use Yogita Singh, slain Anandpal Singh’s daughter as a sympathy card to woo Rajput voters.
Yogita Singh, while addressing a program under the chairmanship of District President Keshar Singh, Ravana Rajput, in Sujangarh Ravana Rajput Sabha building on Sunday, blamed the BJP government for the death of her father. This program was attended by various Congress leaders, including Congress nominee Bhawarlal Meghwal.
In many such gatherings addressed by the slain gangster’s family, especially his daughter, Congress supporters have raised slogans in gangster’s favour in presence of party candidates. The gatherings see appeal made to the Rajput society to take ‘revenge’ from the BJP government by voting in favour of Congress.
This caste-based campaigning, which the Congress is maliciously using to gain popularity in BJPs’ predominant domain, Rajasthan, was earlier also used to belittle the incumbent government.
Congress carrying on their age old tradition of playing caste-based politics, instead of condemning the protest, in which at least one person was killed and 32 people, including 20 policemen, were injured, latched on to this opportunity to belittle Congress’ biggest threat, the BJP.
Eluding the police for almost two years, the dreaded Rajasthan gangster, Anandpal Singh(47), wanted in 37 cases including murder, finally met his end in a police encounter on June 24, 2017. Anandpal Singh was arrested in 2012 for murder from a farmhouse in Jaipur. In 2015, he dramatically escaped from police custody on his way back from court to a prison in Ajmer.
Belonging to Rajasthan’s Ravana Rajput community, Singh came from a small village in Saawad in Ladon tehsil of Nagaur district in Rajasthan. One of the most dreaded gangsters was, however, hailed by the people of his community for having created employment opportunities for them.
His killing had stirred a controversy with people of the Rajput community protesting, alleging, that the gangster wanted to surrender but was shot dead by the police in cold blood. The protestors and his family had then demanded a CBI probe in the case. Congress’ controversial leader Digvijaya Singh had jumped into the controversy surrounding the death of Anandpal Singh, saying Rajasthan’s Rajput ministers should resign if Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje does not order CBI probe into the encounter of the gangster.
In fact, it has been recently reported that the SOG involved in Anandpal Singh’s encounter is still getting death threats from the gangster’s brothers and close aides. The state government has decided to beef up the security of these police personnel in lieu of the continuous threats being received by them.
This is, however, not the first time Congress has taken recourse to caste-based politics. During the buildup to the Gujarat elections, the Congress party had surprised many by openly declaring its intention to woo Hindus, with Rahul Gandhi going on a literal “temple run” during the state’s campaign. The party further ‘saffronised’ Rahul as a Janeu-dhari Shiv Bhakt’ when rumours spread about his name being registered in the non-Hindu register of the Somnath temple.
We have seen Congress supporting Bhim Army in Uttar Pradesh. They fanned the Bhima-Koregaon violence hailing the protests and blaming BJP for ignoring Dalits. While playing these caste-based politics the party has methodically used the Rohit Vemula suicide case, extended support to people like Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani in their attempt to appease the Dalits. They have also tried to encash the ‘Lingayat‘ card prior to the Karnataka elections.
In fact, the deep-rooted, horrendous, casteist bias of the Congress Party was boldly out in the open when their loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyer had audaciously passed a casteist remark calling PM Modi a ‘neech’ aadmi. The Congress subsequently revoking Mani Shankar’s suspension, which had come in lieu of his ‘neech’ comment furthered the parties penchant.
Sonia Gandhi, the party supremo, reportedly too had used the same word to describe Modi in 2014, at a rally in Kushinagar (UP).
Recently, the Congress’ effort to come across as a pro-Hindutva party fell flat when Congress veterans were seen taking a u-turn trying to woo the minority community.
While the Congress desperately tries to prove itself to be a secular party, comments coming from party veterans like Ghulam Nabi Azad referring to Modi as a “Gangu Teli” (Modi comes from the Teli caste) itself proves the deep-seated casteist mindset of the party.
Congress’ desperate attempt to ride two horses at the same time laid exposed several times. What is appalling is that one of the oldest party, rather than addressing issues of development has been resorting to such shallow tactics. As the 2019 general elections draw close, the once grand party of India’s politics seems to be fighting a desperate battle.