Congress leaders have developed an uncanny knack of getting into trouble by making irresponsible statements, particularly when it comes to Pak, then trying to wriggle out, mostly without success. The ‘expertise’ runs through almost every level of the party leadership. It was not long ago Rahul Gandhi did the unthinkable by comparing Indian judiciary to Pakistan’s, only to be snubbed by a court decision that went in his party’s favour the next day, causing great embarrassment to the Congress president and his party.
A senior leader of his party, who once served as minister in the Union Cabinet, duly sworn in to protect the Indian Constitution, has now endorsed the views of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf that the ‘first choice’ of Kashmiris would be independence. “Musharraf had explained that if Kashmiris were given a chance to exercise their free will, they would prefer to be independent. In fact, this assessment of Musharraf seems to be correct even today,” Soz wrote in a soon to be released book of his called ‘Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle’. The veteran Congress leader did not have the sense to consider that, having known Musharraf and his past, he would not have said anything that could be in India’s favour.
The outburst sent Congress on a frantic fire fighting operation, trying to distance the party from the views expressed by Soz, who stands discredited by being excluded from ‘every rightful citizen of India’ by his own party. Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala went to the extent of describing the views as a gimmick to sell his book. It did not help the Congress cause that a couple of days ago key Rahul Gandhi loyalist Ghulam Nabi Azad had committed another indiscretion by making a statement that the BJP interpreted as giving joy to those who supported terrorism. Azad pooh-poohed the anti-terror operations in J&K, saying these resulted in the death of more civilians than terrorists.
It is within the right of Congress as the main Opposition to try and discredit the government wherever possible. But this has to be done within the limits of probity and propriety. Under no circumstances can the party afford to be seen joining hands with forces inimical to India. We have had maverick Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyer in constant touch with Pak think-tanks deliberating on how best to dislodge the Modi government. The controversy over a so-called secret meeting between Rahul Gandhi and other leaders with Pak high commissioner at Aiyer’s residence has not blown over yet. It will do the Congress president a world of good if saner elements in the party show the initiative to ensure that the campaigns of the Rahul brigade do not degenerate into the level of immature campus politics.