For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

Modi’s Comment on Congress Manifesto Aims to Polarise Electorate

It is rather curious that Modi invoked the Muslim League of pre-independence period to tarnish the Congress, conveniently forgetting that it was Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of Jan Sangh and a Hindutva ideologue and icon, who joined hands with the Muslim League to form governments.
PM Modi at a temple. Photo: X/@narendramodi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at a rally in Ajmer that the Congress manifesto for the 2024 general elections “has the imprint of the Muslim League of the pre-independence period and, therefore, is geared to dividing India, is preposterous and devoid of any reasoning.

The Congress’s manifesto very refreshingly puts justice as the core concern of the party in rendering entitlements to all sections of society – be they other backward classes, women, youth and farmers. It promises to conduct a nationwide caste census for ensuring social justice to those who remain deprived of their entitlements on account of ascribed identities.

It lays stress, among others, on a diversity commission, removing the 50 per cent cap on reservation and providing reservation in private sector. It also  focusses attention on changing the personal laws of people of all faiths by factoring their views. It in  fact confirms to Ambedkar’s views – expressed in the Constituent Assembly – that only by taking into account the concerns of the minorities can a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) be framed by any political regime and that only a mad government would go ahead with a UCC by disregarding those concerns.

Strangely, Modi described the Congress manifesto as “a bundle of lies”, saying “every page reeks of attempts to tear India apart”. This is when he made hus absurd claim that, “It reflects the thoughts that the Muslim League had before Independence… The Congress wants to impose the Muslim League’s thoughts from that era on the India of today”.  As this charge were not bizarre enough, he went ahead and added, “And what is remaining of the manifesto is dominated by Communist and leftist thoughts.”

A dog whistle

It is rather unacceptable that someone occupying the high office of Prime Minister would make such ridiculous observations on the manifesto of a rival political party. It is more a dog whistle to spread the false narrative that the Congress is aligned to the cause of Muslims and thereby polarise people along religious lines and consolidate Hindu votes in the BJP’s favour.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee joined hands with Muslim League

It is rather curious that Modi invoked the Muslim League of pre-independence period to tarnish the Congress, conveniently forgetting that it was Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of Jan Sangh and a Hindutva ideologue and icon, who joined hands with the Muslim League to form governments in pre partition Bengal and the erstwhile North Western Frontier Province. Therefore, Modi should be mindful of the fact that the BJP, which succeeded Jan Sangh, has a legacy represented by its ideological mentor Syama Prasad in forging alliances with  pre-independent India’s Muslim League and, therefore, the imprint of the League on the BJP and its leaders is part of historical record and is irrefutable.

Syama Prasad on how British used religion to divide and rule

While being influenced by Syama Prasad’s legacy, Modi should bear in mind what the Hindutva ideologue said in the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946, nine months before India’s independence. While participating in the discussion on the Objectives Resolution that day, Mookerjee refuted Lord Simon’s charge that the Assembly only represented the Caste Hindus and boldly asserted that it had representatives from among Muslims, Christians, Parsis, tribals and Scheduled Castes. He reminded Simon that the British came to India first “as supplicants   before the Great Mughal” and accused them mixing  religion with Indian politics. “That was not done by Indians”, Mookerjee asserted in the Constituent Assembly. “You did it, only to perpetuate your rule in this country”.

Modi reciting religious slogans in his election speeches in an attempt to  appeal to voters is an action that falls into the pattern of what the British were doing. Indeed, Modi’s comment that the Congress manifesto reflects the imprint of pre-independent India’s Muslim League is aimed at  perpetuating  his power and generating outrage against the inclusive vision of India which the Congress manifesto represents.

Mookerjee in the aforementioned speech in the Constituent Assembly forcefully stated that “If ultimately we have to function, we shall function on our own responsibility and prepare a constitution which we shall be able to place before the bar of world opinion and satisfy everyone that we have treated the people of India, minorities and all, in a just and equitable manner.”

He also wanted representation of minorities in the Election Commission when the issue was discussed in the Constituent Assembly. This was opposed by some other members of the Minorities Committee and so could not be approved.

So if the Congress manifesto talks about minorities and all sections of society, why is Modi getting rattled? Someone who considers Syama Prasad Mookerjee an idol of the BJP should not only get inspired by his troubled legacy of forming an alliance with pre-independent India’s Muslim league. He would do well to learn from Mookerjee’s Constituent Assembly speech where he called the Mughal rulers ‘great’ and restore in school history text books the portions of Mughal history erased without citing any plausible reason. A blinkered perspective of history serves to narrow one’s vision and Modi’s attack on the Congress manifesto only affirms this.

S.N. Sahu served as officer on special duty to former President KR Narayanan.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism
facebook twitter