An unseemly row has erupted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stepped up attack on Congress and more so against its president Rahul Gandhi. While speaking the other day at a public rally in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Modi claimed that in a recent parley with Muslim intellectuals Rahul assured those present that “Congress is a party of Muslims”.
Though the Prime Minister drew this from an Urdu newspaper where the alleged remark was published his retort against Rahul is obviously aimed at cornering the Congress with an eye upon the next general elections in 2019 which the BJP wants to win by trumpeting its majority-centric agenda.
Significantly, Modi never told his audience that what he was citing was actually first published in an Urdu newspaper. He only said that “I read (it) in newspaper” without specifying the paper or the language in which it was published. This is obviously so because Modi can’t read Urdu.
Yet, what he might have meant is that he read about it, or saw or heard this being referred to, in other languages, or Hindi or English, papers where he could well have read it. And as a matter of fact Prime Minister need not read all the papers since he is generally told by his retinue of staff ready with clippings to tell about the main and relevant news and events besides other important things.
But Modi knows a lot better than his Congress peers how to regale public on the one hand and throw a person as suave as Rahul Gandhi off guard on the other. And, thus, perhaps he was more definitive than what should have actually been the case when he quoted from an Urdu paper by pretending that he had read the original news all by himself in a language that he does not know.
Anyway, to cut a long story short let’s look at the origin of the remark attributed to Rahul Gandhi. The Congress boss had, indeed, met a group of men and women drawn from Muslim intelligentsia on last Wednesday as a part of his outreach programme vis-à-vis various social groups.
Rahul’s words have been twisted and what he said, in fact, was that the Congress is a party of all castes and creeds, including the Muslims. Modi is a past master at twisting words and obfuscation and that is how he has reached where he has reached.
Thus, before his meeting with well educated Muslims Rahul had also addressed a meeting of members from backward castes at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium. The Congress functionaries point out that similar meetings with different people drawn from different social segments will be held where Rahul will interact with them as a part of his effort to interact with as many groups of people as possible before 2019 elections.
So there was nothing extraordinary or unusual about Rahul’s meeting with a select group of Muslims as Modi has tried to project. And as for the unlikely remark coming from Rahul to identify the party led by him with Muslims what should be kept in mind that Congress party also publishes an Urdu newspaper besides those in Hindi and English. Ideally, these publications should be taken as an authentic source about Congress chief’s take on important matters.
And had Congress been a party of Muslims only as claimed by Modi, the party would have been publishing a paper in Urdu alone and not in Hindi and English as well. Notably, the Congress multi-language publications, namely National Herald, Navjivan and Qaumi Awaz, face a legal challenge mounted by the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy through a court case against the group of papers.
This shows that a long-standing media battle too may send the BJP, including its top leadership, into an overdrive against Congress where press reports could not only be tweaked but also cobbled up and manufactured, courtesy BJP-friendly media houses which have publications cutting across quite a few languages. And Urdu too has fallen under their veritable sway.
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