Salman Khurshid is right: The Congress has Muslim blood on its hands, having been in power during the various communal riots that happened in the country since independence. However, the party has not just Muslim blood to account for, but the blood of thousands of innocent non-Muslim Indians as well. Hindus lost their lives in such violence, and so did the Sikhs — most tragically in 1984.
The senior Congress leader, perhaps thought he had done a favour to his party by the confession since his remark would please the minority community by its candidness. After all, admission of guilt has its advantages. Unfortunately for him, a deeply embarrassed Congress was quick to reject his statement. In other words, the Congress does not believe that it is responsible for the deaths that occurred during dozens of communal riots the nation witnessed during its reign at the Centre and in the States which were hit by the violence. The party seems to have forgotten that Rahul Gandhi had himself admitted in the course of a television interview that Congressmen were involved in the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Salman Khurshid has been busy ‘clarifying’ his remark. But the core remains intact: If the Congress failed to handle the communal violence effectively, how then does it have the moral right to pontificate to others? More importantly, how can the party convince the minority community that the Congress stands for its welfare? As it is, the party has lost the Muslim community’s support in many parts of the country, more so in the States where the Muslim voters have found an alternative — in Uttar Pradesh, the minority community has veered towards the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, and in States such as Odisha, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, regional parties have successfully tapped into the minority votes.
Salman Khurshid’s remark is unlikely to rejuvenate the support which the Muslims had extended nationwide to the Congress once upon a time. The problem also is that the Congress is unsure of the line it should take. One moment it talks of minority politics, the next moment it strains every nerve to appear Hindu-friendly; on one occasion it claims to be a uniting factor regardless of religious affiliation, on another occasion it seeks to split the Hindu community by designating the Lingayat community with a minority religion status outside of Hinduism. The Congress needs to get its basics right.