From day one the Gandhi family and its courtiers have made it clear that they would never accept a ‘chaiwala’ from Gujarat as prime minister. When the results of the general election came on that hot summer day in 2014, indicating a full majority for the BJP and 44 seats for the Congress, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi accepted defeat in a sulky, graceless sort of way. They congratulated the ‘new government’ that had not yet been formed but refused to mention the hated Narendra Modi’s name. Remember? By the next morning, articles written by their devoted courtiers prophesying India’s descent into darkness appeared in newspapers, including this one. A particularly devoted devotee trotted off to Pakistan weeks later and asked for help to oust Modi on a Pakistani news channel.
When a dynasty has remained in power for nearly all of India’s years as an independent nation, it is not easy to accept that some little commoner from Gujarat should usurp the throne. So the relationship between the Congress and the Modi government has been bitter, ugly and acrimonious. The fools who keep suggesting that the Prime Minister ‘reach out’ to the Opposition have no idea what they are talking about. But even keeping these things in mind, Rahul Gandhi’s charge last week that the Prime Minister was doing ‘khoon ki dalali’ with the blood of dead soldiers was beyond belief. His Hindi is limited but even he must know that the word ‘dalaal’ is mostly used as a pejorative term for pimps. So when he charged the Prime Minister with pimping the blood of dead soldiers did he understand that he was defiling the memory of men who died for India?
Ever since 19 soldiers were killed in the Uri attack, we have watched small boys, barely old enough to walk, lighting the pyres of fathers killed in Pakistan’s ugly, undeclared war. It has been a haunting, horrible sight. So when the Indian Army retaliated with a strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, most Indians felt proud. Naturally Pakistan’s military rulers denied that anything happened. It is their default response. It was their response to 26/11 despite Ajmal Kasab being caught alive. It has been their response every time a jihadi attack has revealed the hand of the ISI. These are men who even denied that they knew Osama bin Laden and his many wives and children lived for years in a huge house inside the garrison town of Abbottabad.
Today most countries regard Pakistan as a rogue state that uses jihadi terrorism as a tool of its foreign policy. In view of jihadism being widely regarded as the Nazism of our times, Pakistan is increasingly being acknowledged as the most dangerous Islamic Republic of all since it has a huge stock of nuclear weapons and continues to make more. Until the Indian Army conducted its ‘surgical strikes’, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif made daily threats of nuclear war.
Unsurprisingly, most Indians are proud that the Prime Minister showed the political will to ignore this nuclear blackmail. But, the Congress party was left confused and unhappy. So some of its leaders began by praising the ‘armed forces’ as if they could have acted without political support. Then when it became clear that the ‘surgical strikes’ were hugely popular, they started grumbling about how they had done similar strikes but never taken credit politically. Why not? After 26/11 and the beheading of our soldiers, most Indians wanted some kind of retaliation, so where was the need for secrecy?
Rahul Gandhi’s response to the ‘surgical strikes’ was the most confused of all. He welcomed them but added that it was the first time in more than two years that he had seen the Prime Minister behave ‘prime ministerial’. Days later he charged him with ‘pimping’ the blood of dead soldiers. For a start it is not at all clear what he meant by this, but whatever he meant, it showed contempt for the young men who die every day protecting India’s borders against an increasingly belligerent neighbour.
It is possible that Rahul Gandhi did not fully understand what he was saying. It is possible that he thought of this as yet another clever one-liner, but he seems not just to have misunderstood what he was saying but also misunderstood the threat India faces from Pakistan’s jihadist military assets. WikiLeaks reported five years ago that Rahul once told an American ambassador that he believed Hindu terrorism was a bigger threat to India than jihadist terrorism. Does he still believe this? If he does, then it is time for some more political science lessons and some lessons in current affairs. No man who seeks to become India’s prime minister can remain oblivious to the ugly possibility of a nuclear war being started by some jihadist general from the Islamic Republic next door.