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A South African anti-racism campaign, the inexplicable presence of Congress leader Anand Sharma and how Indian interests may be compromised

It is to be kept in mind that Indian National Congress and ANC are close as political parties and not as representatives of their counties necessarily. In 2008, Sonia Gandhi had signed an MoU between INC and ANC to "boost ties".

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

The George Floyd murder in the United States of America has rocked the world. There has been rampant looting, rioting, arsons that have been set across the USA, reportedly, largely by Communists and ANTIFA extremists. When a catalytic event takes place, it is naive to assume that the embers won’t reach India, a world away from the USA. In the aftermath of the violence in the USA, many communists, Leftists, Islamists and vested political interests started baying for similar protests in India, equating African-Americans to Muslims in India.

Just as the USA was trending ‘Black Lives Matter’, Indians started trending ‘Muslim Lives Matter’. They wanted Muslims to take to the streets for this so-called ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ protests. Many explicitly called upon Muslims to ‘rise up’ because ‘if we not now then we are done for’. The attempt was to draw a false equivalence between the African American community and Indian Muslims.

ISIS supporters are revelling the violent protests raging in the United States in the wake of George Floyd's murder
Violence in the United States over killing of George Floyd (Source: WSJ)

All of this was geared towards inciting a new cycle of violence in India and helping absolve the ones of guilty of fuelling the first spell of riots of all their sins. The circumstances of African Americans in the USA and Muslims in India cannot be equated in any manner whatsoever. Muslims in India have always been treated more than equally by the Indian Constitution with a plethora of minoritarian policies even after the country was partitioned due to demands made by Indian Muslims in the 1940s for the creation of a separate Islamic state.

The African Americans, on the other hand, have gained no such privileges. Furthermore, their ancestors were brought in as slaves by Whites centuries. Indian Muslims do not have a history of slavery at all. Therefore, drawing such false equivalences is a gross distortion of history.

Interestingly, the Muslim victimhood was not just being played in India. Even in the USA, the killing of George Floyd saw Islamists trying to take advantage of the situation. In the USA, chants of ‘La Illaha Ilallallah’ were heard during the violent protests as well.

The Congress party, which has squarely aligned itself with Islamists and Communists launched a very dangerous game in the wake of this dynamic geopolitical situation.

Yesterday, South-Africa launched an ‘anti-racism campaign’ led by President Ramaphosa.

The press note by South Africa at the launch of “Alliance of anti-racism campaign”

The press release was issued by African National Congress (ANC) which is the governing national party in South Africa currently. The press note said that South Africa is standing up to racism and is asserting that Black Lives Matter in the face of the George Floyd murder and institutional racism. This ‘Alliance’ was to be launched on the 5th through a digital campaign with its ‘alliance partners’.

For context, the alliance partners of ANC, which is the ruling party of South Africa are South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions).

Essentially, even from the press note that was released by the ANC, it appeared as if this was more a campaign that was aimed towards South Africa and it certainly was not some international or global alliance.

On IOL, one of the leading newspapers of South Africa, a scathing critique of this movement was also published. While rightly, the opinion piece said that there was a need for solidarity with those who become the victims of racism, it also pointed out the ANC’s hypocrisy when it came to blacks being killed with impunity in South Africa itself. The article contended that even in South Africa, Black lives should matter and for the ANC, it is hypocritical to launch this campaign given their track record.

Either way, by every account published in South African papers and even the press note released by ANC, this campaign sounded far more internal than global or even international.

However, there was something amiss. In the second page of the press release by ANC, a name stuck out like a sore thumb.

The press note by South Africa at the launch of “Alliance of anti-racism campaign”

The launch of this campaign was to start with a virtual talk. The opening statements were to be delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa and then, a panel discussion was to ensue with several other panellists making their comments.

7 out of 8 of those panelists belonged to South Africa. However, there was one name that did not add up – Anand Sharma, Congress leader.

Anand Sharma in the launch of anti-racism campaign by South Africa

Evoking Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Anand Sharma spoke about fighting Colonialism, Racism etc. He went as far as to call the ANC the INC’s ‘fraternal party’.

He called for a global alliance of people to stand for justice, tolerance, acceptance and a host of other punch words. Addressing ‘Comrade’ President, Anand Sharma said that what happened in America is a “call of action” for the flight for “equal rights”.

What President Ramaphosa said during the launch of the anti-racist campaign

President Ramaphosa, while rightly standing up for African-Americans and for equal rights of all of humanity, made some problematic statements during his opening speech. Speaking about toxic superiority, he spoke about the so-called discrimination against the Rohingya Muslims. Further, he spoke about the “continued occupation of Palestine by Israel” and the cultural superiority that leads to the denial of Palestine’s “right to self-determination”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke against Xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism. Further, he said, “Intolerance is an enabler of brutality, oppression, neglect and indifference”. He went on, “Those in the position of power, violate the rights of the vulnerable people of all societies. The unjustified use of violence by security forces against civilians, including in our own country, is one such example”.

What did Anand Sharma say once the launch of South Africa anti-racism campaign was over

Right after the digital show, Anand Sharma took to Twitter to question India and its supposed silence on the brutality on George Floyd.

The text that was attached with the image where Anand Sharma questioned India (read as PM Modi) read, “Stand up, my fellow Indians, for Justice and human rights”.

Firstly, the demand of an Indian citizen for the Indian government to speak up on America’s internal matter is rather baffling. One recalls India’s reaction when President Donald Trump offered to mediate in Kashmir. India sent a stern message asserting that Kashmir is an internal matter and that no foreign interference or offers to mediate between India and Pakistan would be entertained.

The offer of President Donald Trump was still an offer to mediate between two countries. Here, Congress is suggesting that India comment on an internal security issue of America. It almost sounds like Congress is trying to use the George Floyd murder to further its own interests – which is to undermine India, PM Modi and further its own political ambitions at the cost of the nation.

How Congress is trying to undermine Indian interests

The favourite argument of the Congress to shield itself is to assert that the politician was there in an individual, personal capacity and not representing the Indian National Congress. One suspects that if questions are raised about Anand Sharma’s involvement with South Africa, the same argument would be thrown around. However, it is important to know that during his speech, Sharma repeatedly invoked Indian National Congress and thus, it can be safely concluded that Anand Sharma was indeed there representing the Indian National Congress and was not there due to his personal connections to South Africa.

Having established that, one also needs to understand that the relationship between South Africa and Prime Minister Modi has not been the easiest relationship over the years even though President Ramaphosa was the Chief Guest at Republic Day 2019 and the relationship has been getting better over the years. In 2016, when Prime Minister Modi travelled to South Africa, there were several factions in South Africa who were protesting against his visit. In fact, it was a large portion on ANC and several Islamic organisations that had protested against his visit. In 2018, right before the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, Islamists and corrupt businessman like the Gupta brothers had also sought to move an application to arrest PM Modi when he lands in SA. Though the application was rejected, it exposed a wound that had so far been hidden.

South Africa has a rather large Muslim population, even from Pakistan. That President Ramaphosa spoke about Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Palestine’s right to self-determination, the US’ thirst for capitalistic endeavours and even Islamophobia proves that the dynamics in South Africa are to a very large extent dominated by what its Muslim community feels.

In such a scenario, for the Indian National Congress to engage with the government of a nation whose relationship with India is not the easiest reeks of an agenda. Further, other than the Islamists, there is a Chinese angle which also needs to be considered.

China and South Africa have extremely deep ties. In the 2010 Beijing Declaration, South Africa was upgraded to the diplomatic status of Strategic Comprehensive Partner by the Chinese government and in the same year, China became South Africa’s largest trading partner. This is one of the reasons why perhaps President Ramaphosa mentioned Rohingyas but not Uighurs. The Chinese bonds with SA were so strong, that SA had multiple times denied entry to the Dalai Lama as well.

With South Africa building close bonds with China and America going against China in their trade war post-COVID, for the Congress to support SA in their politics against the USA and also for Congress to demand that India speaks about USA’s internal situation right after he was seen cosying up to SA reeks of an agenda. India interfering in USA’s internal law and order situation when the USA, which has historically been pro-China and pro-Pakistan, is finally waking up to the perils of the Islamist nation and Communist nation, would be the definition of making foreign policy blunder. Given these dynamics, one surely has to wonder what game has Congress planned domestically and what are Congress’ intentions in trying to undermine India’s interests globally.

It is to be kept in mind that Indian National Congress and ANC are close as political parties and not as representatives of their counties necessarily. In 2008, Sonia Gandhi had signed an MoU between INC and ANC to “boost ties”. In fact, It was alleged that South Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress, has received funding for election campaigns from foreign countries particularity for the 2009 national elections. Amongst the foreign countries accused of giving money to the ANC is the Communist Party of China. Other countries and the ruling political parties and figures accused of giving money to the ANC include the Congress Party of India, the Gaddafi administration of Libya and Equatorial Guinea.

It is also pertinent to note that OpIndia in an exclusive story had revealed Kapil Sibal’s personal business interests with a corrupt politician called one Piyoosh Goyal who had ties with the corrupt Gupta Brothers of South Africa. Interestingly, one of the parties that were involved in the incident where there were petitions furthered to arrest PM Modi when he reaches SA was the Gupta brothers.

Clearly, the Congress’ ties to South Africa are deep seated and go beyond what meets the eye. In such a scenario, Anand Sharma’s presence at the launch of the campaign when all others present were exclusively from South Africa is bound to raise questions.

Anand Sharma’s tweet after speaking at the launch of the anti-racism campaign of South Africa reveals Congress’ intentions

As discussed in the beginning of the article. Congress and its allies, allies like Aakar Patel, Harsh Mandar, Swara Bhaskar etc have already started the clamour not only equating African-Americans with Indian Muslims but also demanding for similar protests to be held in India. One has to recall that Congress was at the forefront of fomenting trouble during the violent protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and even the protests that led up to the brutal anti-Hindi Delhi riots in February.

From the tweet by Anand Sharma and the continuous ranting by elements close to Congress, like Harsh Mandar who was a part of Sonia Gandhi’s NAC that the Congress’ next move is to replicate the kind of ‘civil rights protests’ that are happening in America right now. Of course, the fact that the rampant looting, vandalism and arson are being done by ANTIFA extremists doesn’t seem to be a concern for the Congress since clearly Congress has long ago decided to ally with Communists and Islamists.

At this point, it would certainly seem like Congress is trying to undermine India-US ties, get India to interfere in the internal law and order situation of the US, undermine India’s interests in South Africa and bring the US style violent protests in India.

With the tropes of ‘intolerance’, ‘Islamophobia’, injustice to Rohingya Muslims etc being discussed during the launch of Anti-Racism campaign in South Africa, Anand Sharma’s presence as the representative of his party surely does look suspect. One has seen how the arrests of suspects in the Delhi riots case have riled up political rivals of Prime Minister Modi. It seems entirely plausible that all of this is merely groundwork being laid by the Congress party to import the USA model of protest to India to foment trouble and gain politically.

It has been evident for a while that Congress has given up on defeating Prime Minister Modi with domestic support. Their pro-Islamist, pro-Communist stand, their constant undermining of national interests and an endless string of scams have lost them the favour of the voters. Recently, it is becoming increasingly clear that Congress is now going international and banking on foreign interference in India’s internal affairs to defeat PM Modi politically. Whether it was Mani Shankar Aiyar going to Pakistan and asking them to remove PM Modi and instal the Congress, or Congress leaders joining hands with Islamists to target Hindus in the UAE or even George Soros starting a billion-dollar fund to fight ‘nationalists’. Congress is encouraging and furthering international interference in order to damage the Prime Minister. If one recalls, even the Rafale controversy that was completely the creation of Congress had its roots internationally.

This exploitation of George Floyd’s death seems to be just another piece of the puzzle.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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