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Point by point rebuttal to Aditya Menon defending the Congress on 1984 riots

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

Even by standards of Indian liberalism, it is rare to find an article containing as many logical errors as that which Aditya Menon has just written on CatchNews trying to laboriously create a defense of the Congress in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

This is going to be easy and fun, so I can’t wait to get started. Let us debunk his arguments one by one. For the sake of argument, let us start from a “neutral” position and say that the Hindu right sees Rajiv Gandhi as responsible for 1984 and the secular brigade sees  Narendra Modi as responsible for 2002 even though neither accusation has ever been proven in a court of law. For reasons that are as hilarious as they are obvious, Shri Aditya Menon bypasses Rajiv Gandhi and passes the blame to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, but we will not quibble over that. He has bowled so many full tosses anyway in the rest of his article that we will forgive him this wide ball…

Let us face it, Modi would have been just one among many BJP leaders had it not been for the 2002 riots….Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were never hailed as Hindu Hriday Samrat.

That’s a FAIL because there is no basis for comparison. In the Congress, no one can be hailed as a “Samrat” of anything unless he is born in the royal line. Tytler and Sajjan Kumar weren’t born as part of the Dynasty and hence were debarred from being “Samrats” under any circumstances whatsoever. So, argument dismissed.

In comparison, whom did the Congress make PM when it came to power in 2004? Not Tytler, not Sajjan Kumar, but Manmohan Singh, a Sikh. Will BJP ever project a Muslim as PM?

Wrong on at least 2 levels. First, the shameful  foolishness of mixing up a small sample with a large one. The Congress has ruled 55 years since India became a Republic in 1950 and the BJP only about 8 years. How do you know that the BJP would never give the country a Muslim Prime Minister?

Secondly, didn’t the BJP give the nation a Muslim President already? There are two avenues through which an Adarshliberal could try to counter this fact and I am closing both of them:

a. You could say that Dr. Kalam’s stature was so great that it would tower over the considerations of “Hindu” or “Muslim”. If you are taking that route, then are you saying that the only qualification of Dr. Manmohan Singh for becoming Prime Minister was his religious identity? Congress is not gonna come out looking good on this. Exercise caution before you try this line of argument.

b. The second avenue you could take is  saying that the President is a powerless rubber stamp without actual authority. In which case, I must remind you that the example given for Congress promoting a Sikh to high office is that of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Are you saying that Dr. Singh wasn’t a powerless rubber stamp without actual authority? If Adarshliberals take this route, I might just die of laughter.

Okay, what next Aditya Menon?

Yes, Rajiv Gandhi won the elections that followed soon after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, just as Modi won in 2002….And his remarks “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes” are often compared to Modi’s comment that “every action has a reaction”. But that wasn’t the only statement Rajiv Gandhi made. Here’s what he told the people of India in his address on 31 October,1984, the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated:

This is a moment of profound grief. The foremost need now is to maintain our balance. We can and must face this tragic ordeal with fortitude, courage and wisdom. We should remain calm and exercise the maximum restraint. We should not let our emotions get the better of us, because passion would cloud judgement. Nothing would hurt the soul of our beloved Indira Gandhi more than the occurrence of violence in any part of the country.

Did Modi say anything like that?

Ouch! Did you just say : “Did Modi say anything like that?” Mr. Aditya Menon, did you just type out that sentence in a major news publication? Well, excuse me young bowler, while I dispatch that loose ball way across the boundary for a six.

Here is Narendra Modi’s statement…he starts his words with the line “Yesterday in Godhra”, so you can see that it is one day after the train burning:

I pray to you that the need of the hour is to maintain peace and self discipline

Dismissed for a six, Mr. Menon. Why don’t you go fetch the ball now?

The reason that the BJP never apologised for the 2002 riots is that antipathy towards Muslims is integral to the Sangh Parivar. …On the other hand, there is nothing ideologically anti-Sikh about the Congress and the party did not run a campaign against Sikhs”

This is my favorite argument. So, the Congress is not ideologically anti-Sikh. It is only opportunistically anti-Sikh. Is this supposed to make the Sikhs or any other community for that matter feel better about the Congress? That the Congress is not “ideologically” against any community, but just picks and chooses its target depending on political convenience of the  moment. So, vote for Congress and just hope they don’t happen to single out your community for victimization in the next five years…  Well bowled Mr. Menon, you got me there…

Had Congress been inherently anti-Sikh, would Sikh majority Punjab have elected Congress to power twice – in 1992 and in 2002?

Had BJP been inherently anti-Muslim, would Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir have elected BJP as part of a coalition government at this very moment? Why would Omar Abdullah, whose father and grandfather were both CMs of Muslim majority J&K and  who later became CM of J&K himself, join the inherently anti-Muslim Vajpayee government as a  minister?

Next, please. Now, Mr. Aditya Menon makes his final move:

Postscript: There is one commonality between the two riots that most people seem to have missed. BJP and RSS cadres were reportedly involved in both of them.

In support of his argument, he has a newspaper clipping accusing some cadres of BJP & RSS of involvement in the 1984 riots. Here is the clipping he has:


No problems, Mr. Menon, if we are going to quibble over low level cadre involvement, I have a gift for you from The Times of India dated Aug 9, 2003:


What? Madam Sonia Gandhi received a list of 25 Congress leaders complicit in 2002 riots as per the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind? And that list had a former Congress minister, a sitting MLA and a former MP…


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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  
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