‘The party chose to pander to Muslim fears’: Wikileaks cable on Congress’ dangerous politics over 26/11 terror attack

It is interesting to note that the Congress' minority appeasement politics did not escape the eyes of even the U.S. ambassador to India.

A leaked WikiLeaks document reveals how the Congress party played politics over the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It did not escape the notice of even the then U.S. ambassador to India, David Mulford.

Minority Affairs Minister Antulay’s remarks

In the leaked memo, Mulford is seen talking about the Congress party’s politics over the 26/11 Mumbai tragedy. He mentions that P. Chidambaram officially denied any Hindutva link to the terror attacks after the UPA Minority Affairs Minister made outrageous claims. Antulay had claimed that Hindutva element was behind the death of Hemant Karkare. Antulay said,  “Superficially speaking, they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was a victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something I do not know.” “Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in acts of terrorism in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terrorism has always been the target,” Antulay had said, adding: “There is more than what meets the eye.”

Mulford’s scathing observations

Soon after the initial denial of Antulay’s rhetoric, the party issued statements which “implicitly endorsed” the conspiracy theories, Mulford observed. “The Congress party, after first distancing itself from the comments (of Antulay, the then Minority Affairs Minister), two days later issued a contradictory statement which implicitly endorsed the conspiracy. During this time, Mr Antulay’s completely unsubstantiated claims gained support in the conspiracy-minded Indian—Muslim community,” Mulford wrote in his secret cable to the State Department on December 23, 2008. “Hoping to foster that support for upcoming national elections, the Congress Party cynically pulled back from its original dismissal and lent credence to the conspiracy,” he added.

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Mulford also observed that the Congress party chose to engage in dangerous identity politics for electoral benefits. He wrote, “The party chose to pander to Muslims’ fears, providing the impetus for those in the Muslim community who will continue to play up the conspiracy theory. While cooler heads eventually prevailed within the Congress leadership,
the idea that the party would entertain such outlandish claims proved once again that many party leaders are still wedded to the old identity politics. The seventy-nine-year-old Antulay was probably bewildered to find that his remarks, similar in vein to what he would have routinely made in the past to attack the BJP, created such a furore this time.”

It is interesting to note that the Congress’ minority appeasement politics did not escape the eyes of even the U.S. ambassador to India. It is also pertinent to mention that senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh also attended the release of a book titled “26/11: An RSS conspiracy?” at the India Islamic Cultural Centre.

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