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Did Rahul Gandhi suffer from bout of Diggi-titis in Indore?

Author: Akash Deep Ashok 
Publication: India Today
Date: October 25, 2013
URL: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/did-rahul-gandhi-suffer-from-bout-of-diggi-titis-in-indore/1/320260.html

It was a beautiful story hyphenated abruptly by a thousand marks of interrogation and exclamations. What started as an impressive assault on the BJP in Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's Indore rally on Thursday ended in a self-goal.

The young leader said he had gone to Muzaffarnagar after the riots to meet the people of different communities, where he was told that there is no enmity among the people, but still they had been made to fight each other. "The BJP felt that unless there is a Hindu versus Muslim situation in Uttar Pradesh, they would not do well. So, they lit this fire," Gandhi said, adding that it was the Congress party that doused the fire in Muzaffarnagar.

Everything was hunky-dory until then and the political critics in Delhi had almost begun writing paeans for the Congress scion for his ability to draw crowds and strike the right chord with them. At that precise moment and in the middle of his speech, he was bitten by the ISI bug. The resultant "ouch" issued from the mouths of the Congress top brass in Delhi.

"A couple of days ago, an intelligence officer walked into my office and told me that people from Pakistan are talking to the relatives of Muslims killed in Muzaffarnagar. The officer told me that he has been trying to convince victims not to get swayed by Pakistani propaganda," Gandhi said.

While the BJP questioned how the intelligence officer was allowed to brief the veep of a political party, Gandhi's statement touched a raw nerve with Muslim leaders. Prominent cleric and senior vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Kalbe Sadiq said anyone who casts aspersions on the integrity and loyalty of the minorities of the country was doing a great disservice to the country and the Muslims.

As friends, detractors and political experts brood over what led the young leader to put his foot firmly in his mouth, I have an explanation of how illogical it might be.

A day earlier in Ratangarh in Madhya Pradesh Gandhi had said he had visited the area in 2009 and was bitten by mosquitoes and had suffered loose motions after drinking water there. This time also, it was a bug which made him land his foot in the wrong place. The Digvijaya Singh bug.

Gandhi's senior in the party and general secretary has had a history of being briefed secretly by unimaginable sources on a host of controversial matters. Walking in the land where Singh served two straight terms as the chief minister, Gandhi is likely to have been bitten by this bug.

Two years after the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks, Singh had set the political stage on fire by stating that the slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had called him hours before he was killed and had spoken to him about threats to his (Karkare's) life from Hindu extremist groups. The Congress party had quickly distanced itself from his statement.

Maharastra Home Minister RR Patil had later told the Assembly that the state government had found no record of a telephone conversation between Singh and Karkare on the day of the 26/11 terrorist attack. Around the same time, when Digvijaya Singh was enthusiastically giving interviews about Karkare's call to him, US Wikileaks cables quoted cables sent by the US Ambassador about Congress party "playing religious politics" and "crass political opportunism" in planting doubts regarding Karkare's murder by Pakistani terrorists.

While this had embarrassed the Congress party, for Singh it was just another day.

In 2011, Singh again dialled a wrong number on the Batla House encounter and claimed that it was fake. The encounter had led to the death of two terrorists and a police officer. Then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had dismissed Singh's claim and his demand for a further judicial investigation into it. The Congress party, knowing the drill by then, had again distanced itself from his statement, maintaining that the encounter should not be politicised or raked up for political gains. Singh's stand on the Batla House encounter led to criticism from the Opposition BJP and cost the Congress party dearly in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. In 2013, a Delhi court ruled that the Batla House encounter was genuine but Singh had continued to maintain that his opinion and demands were correct.

Let's hope the next time the Congress scion visits Madhya Pradesh, he takes along chlorine tablets for water, repellent for mosquitoes and that time-tested golden silence on sensitive issues. Or else, another spell of Diggi-titis can make him and the party sick. Very sick.
 
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