Congress appeal to Muslim vote, playing with fire
by N S Rajaram on 24 Apr 2019 19 Comments

History shows that any support from Muslims soon leads to their extracting more than their pound of flesh. This is what happened when Gandhi sought the support of the Ali Brothers in exchange for his sponsorship of the Khilafat. The result was massive communal violence, especially in Malabar that took three months for the army to put down. We should be prepared for a similar conflagration possibly in Kashmir.


The Congress, in its wisdom has appealed to Muslims to vote en masse to help vote out the Modi Government. The appeal came from cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu who seems to be working as a stooge of the Pakistani leadership and Army that expectedly endorsed him. At least he seems enamoured of its puppet prime minister, another cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan.


Sidhu deemed it a great honour to be invited by Khan, even suggesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi was envious because of it. Prime Minister Modi has been an honoured guest at the White House (US), the Kremlin (Russia) and several other major countries, but none of this seems to impress Sidhu or his sponsors and supporters, to whom an invitation by the puppet prime minister of the tottering Pakistan is the height of honour. Sidhu, a member of the Punjab cabinet, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, could not be speaking on his own without the authorization of his party superiors in Delhi. This should be cause for concern.


But worse, the Congress has agreed with him. It appears in its desperation to keep a nationalist government led by Narendra Modi from coming back to power, the Congress has decided to go to any length, to take the help of Pakistan if possible to defeat Mr Modi. If the Muslims do manage to help Sidhu and his party, it will come at a price. Neither he nor his superiors in Delhi are known for their intellectual accomplishments, but here is a little history that might be worth revisiting at this juncture.


Sabotaging Swaraj: Tilak, Aurobindo sidelined


The firebrand, who gave the first clarion call for swarajya before Gandhiji, was Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who said, “Swarajya is my birth right and I shall have it”, in 1906. This call came at a time when the Indian National Congress was led by the moderates, which for its first 20 years of existence worked only on policy changes through administrative means. INC’s top leaders didn’t really want to let go of British rule as they thought of it as being beneficial to the nation. This can be seen in the stated position of several INC presidents of the early days. This moderate faction was led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale who mentored M.K. Gandhi, bringing him back from South Africa. Tilak was supported by Sri Aurobindo who, too, was branded an extremist.


On their return from South Africa, Gokhale and Gandhi stopped over in England, which gives rise to the possibility that they met with British officials to evolve a strategy to neutralize the firebrand nationalists led by Tilak and Aurobindo. On their return, Gandhi was hosted by the Governor of Bombay, a rare honour for a common Indian soldier as Gandhi had then been. He had been a recruiting sergeant for the British.


What followed was one of the more bizarre episodes in history. Gandhi redefined Swaraj from freedom to restoration of the Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) that had suffered total defeat in World War I, as Muslims in India (and nowhere else) identified with the long ended Caliphate. Tilak died in 1920, facilitating the takeover of the Congress by Gandhi and the so-called moderates which prominently included the Nehrus, Motilal and Jawaharlal. This was called the trinity of “father, son and the Holy Ghost”. These and some so-called nationalist Muslims like Maulana Azad and M.A. Ansari supported the Khilafat movement to force the British to restore the Turkish Sultan as Caliph.


Whether this was Gandhi’s idea or was suggested by Gokhale and/or the British remains conjectural. In any event, Gandhi promised the British would be made to leave within a year, if the Muslims supported him. The Muslim leaders promised support, but extracted more than their pound of flesh in return. The results are still with us today. So Gandhi’s concern was not ending the British rule of India, but saving Muslim Turkey and its pretence of being the Caliphate.


Turkey abolishes the Caliphate


Then an event happened which was to deal a fatal blow to the Caliphate. Two brothers, Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali, leaders of the India-based Khilafat Movement, distributed pamphlets calling upon the Turkish people to preserve the Ottoman Caliphate for the sake of Islam. Under Turkey’s new nationalist government led by Kemal Ataturk, this was construed as foreign intervention and any form of foreign intervention was labelled an insult to Turkish sovereignty, and worse, a threat to State security.


Kemal promptly seized his chance. On his initiative, the National Assembly abolished the Caliphate on March 3, 1924. Sultan Abdülmecid II was sent into exile along with the remaining members of the Ottoman House, marking the official end of the Ottoman Caliphate, which existed only in the hearts of the Muslims of India and nowhere else.


Gandhi made a bargain with the Ali Brothers, even supporting their invitation to the Emir of Afghanistan to invade India, and their diktat to the Hindus to support the invaders and the Ali Brothers. The British arrested the Ali Brothers for sedition, but could not stop the resulting violence. Turkey was modernized, but there were massive riots all over India from Peshawar to Cochin in which horrible atrocities were committed by Muslim gangs on the non-Muslim population. It was extremely virulent in Malabar in Kerala, where it came to be known as the Moplah (Mapillah) Rebellion. It took the British and Indian forces several months to put down.


In reality, the goal was saving Ottoman Turkey from breaking up. This brings us to the scenario in our own backyard, where Pakistan is going through the agonies of possible breakup. In addition to its dismal economy, Pakistan has daily disturbances in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which are not reported in the Indian media.


Move to save Pakistan?


Like Gandhi and the Congress a century ago, there appears to be a covert move in the Congress and its associates to take a pro-Pakistan position even with regard to fighting Pak-sponsored terrorism. This was seen during the 10 years of UPA rule; there was nothing much to feel proud about but much to be disheartened about, including the cowardly silence by the Congress’ powers-that-be in Delhi after the horrendous Mumbai attacks of November 2008. So it is probably not a coincidence that these parties are engaged in undermining the armed forces which are the only bulwark against terrorism.


It is worth noting that leaders everywhere are safe only because of the security forces that protect them and all of us. So don’t undermine them for a few favours from a bankrupt country on the verge of collapse. Stop playing with fire by appealing for Muslim votes. History tells us what can happen. As George Santayana wrote, history doesn’t repeat itself, only fools repeat history.



-        Gandhi, Khilafat and the National Movement by N.S. Rajaram

-        The Tragic Story of Partition by H.V. Seshadri

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