The question is not whether the Congress used terms such as “Hindu terror’ or ‘Saffron terror’, for it has been established beyond doubt that its senior leaders who were Ministers in the Congress-led UPA regime, had indeed resorted to such language. Even Rahul Gandhi had, in communications made public by WikiLeaks, had said that the nation faced bigger terror threats from radical Hindu organisations.
The question is: What really is the Congress seeking to gain from such improprieties? After all, on various occasions, it has said that religion should not be attached to terror. One explanation makes itself obvious: The party wants to ‘balance out’ matters by bringing certain Hindu groups or individuals at par with the likes of Hafiz Saeed and various Pakistan-based terror groups so that it can tell the Muslim community that the latter is not being targeted. But how does this yield political dividend? The Muslim community has shifted away from the Congress in States where it has had an option — be it Uttar Pradesh or Bihar or Delhi. It is unlikely to return to the Congress’s fold merely because the party has raised the bogey of Hindu terror. On the other hand, the Congress has committed a self-goal by antagonising the Hindus, many of whom had already migrated to other parties, notably the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Perhaps the Congress believes that it can win back the affiliation of that ‘secular’ Hindu section which is anti-BJP but not necessarily pro-Congress. This would include Hindus who vote for the Left or the various regional parties. The Congress obviously believes that if it cannot get the undivided vote of the Hindus, it can achieve some purpose by then dividing the community and thus at least denting the votes of the BJP. That explains its recent decision to accord the Lingayats of Karnataka a minority religion status — a move that is likely to be rejected by the Centre.
The Congress has indeed come a long way — from consolidating the Muslims as a vote-bank to now dividing the Hindus. It remains to be seen whether the strategy will fetch for the party electoral gains, but the longer-term impact will be adversarial for society. For one, it will add to the already existent Hindu-Muslim tension in parts of the country. Besides, the divide-and-rule game-plan, which the British had so effectively deployed when they ruled India, has the potential to damage the social fabric of the country, beyond the Hindu-Muslim issue. It is wrong under any circumstances to confront not just one community against the other but to also pit one section of a community against another from within.