Mumbai has been struck once again. The city has faced nine terror attacks in as many years
which killed 437 persons and injured over 500. Every time an act happens, there is an outpouring of public anger and disdain. But with passage of time, the noise subsides and the attack is forgotten. In the bustling city, life moves on. Hapless citizens of Mumbai forget and forgive not knowing when the next blast may happen. The track record of the Congress-NCP ruled coalition government in the state in handling terror over the past decade has been extremely poor.
The performance of the Congress party led UPA government at the Centre is no better. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, a series of bomb blasts have occurred in 2010: Pune
(German Bakery blast), serial bombings at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, the December 2010 bombing at the Shitla Ghat in Varanasi etc.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) which was set up in 2009 in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai attacks through an act of Parliament to investigate terror related offences has become yet another political instrument in the hands of the UPA government rather than functioning as an effective agency to curb terror. NIA is proving to be as notorious and partisan as the CBI and kowtowing to the demands of the ruling establishment at the Centre in fixing political rivals and opposition ruled state governments.
The National Investigation Agency has been assigned three of the 2010 blast cases but it has made no breakthrough. While it is widely believed that most of the terror attacks are perpetrated by the Indian Mujahideen having close links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, no concrete action has been taken. Perhaps it is foolhardy to expect the UPA government to take action against LeT and IM when Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that controls the UPA government, believes that they are not as much a danger as Hindu radicals. Rahul Gandhi’s warped thinking becomes the operative direction for the Union home ministry and the investigating agencies.
NIA over the last two years has been preoccupied in implicating Sangh parivar and its affiliates in various terror cases. Using the mandate of the NIA, the UPA government has been attempting to take over even cases that are unrelated to terror in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states. The latest instance relates to the NIA’s eagerness to take over investigations into the kidnapping and murder of two college students in Karnataka last month. Such cynical misuse of a premier investigating agency shows UPA government’s utter disregard for the NIA’s mandate.
The moot questions are: why is the Congress party not pushing hard in crushing terrorism? And, why isn’t it perturbed by terror related violence hurting its image? The reasons are purely political and electoral.
The Congress party has perhaps begun to think that terrorism is not hurting it politically. Worse, it may have begun to think that terror strikes may have unwittingly benefited them electorally. Wondering if such cynicism could have any basis? Let me explain.
In the assembly and parliamentary elections held in 2009, the Congress-NCP party swept polls in Mumbai city. Though they lost Mumbai Municipal corporation elections in 2002 and 2007, repeated bomb blasts have not blunted the Congress party’s prospects in the most populous city in assembly and parliamentary elections. Failure to curb terror has never become a salient poll issue in Mumbai (or anywhere else in the country for that matter) and hence the Congress party does not fear losing elections because of terror in Mumbai.
A new thinking has dawned on the Congress party after 26/11 Mumbai attacks. In Delhi and Rajasthan assembly elections held in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attack broadcast 24x7 by television channels, the Congress party has performed creditably. It has wrested Rajasthan state from the BJP and retained Delhi winning it for the third time in a row. This has made the Congress believe that an occasional terror incident does not hurt its electoral prospects at all.
Further, by not acting decisively against Islamic terror and sympathizing with suspected terrorists, the Congress party believes that it may secure the Muslim votes. What else do you make of a prime minister who exhibits sympathies for perpetrators of terrorism rather than their victims. In his previous term, Manmohan Singh had famously stated, "I could not sleep after watching the mothers of Indians (alleged terrorists and abettors) in custody." Digvijay Singh has committed the same sin umpteen times. He has absolved Pakistan sponsored terrorists and obliquely blamed the RSS for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and fought valiantly for the human rights of “Osamaji.” Under UPA, the minority appeasement has reached new lows.
The Congress party has some strange ways of doing politics. Many Congress veterans would tell you that the party was never interested in removing poverty. It firmly believed that perpetuating poverty and projecting itself as a saviour by offering doles was in its best political interests. One cannot but wonder if the Congress party has likewise developed a vested interest in perpetuating terrorism too.
With the fight against terrorism becoming subservient to Congress party’s narrow political interests, there is an urgent need to generate public awareness about the cynical reasons for the apparent lack of political will on the Congress government’s part to fight terror. Unless public pressure is generated and terrorism becomes a salient electoral issue like corruption, terrorists would continue to wreak havoc and people continue to suffer the consequences.
G V L Narasimha Rao is a noted political analyst
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Your view: Is the Congress led UPA government casual in tackling terrorism because it is playing cynical politics?