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Congress has lost its moral compass

August 11, 2005 18:48 IST

What is the cost of 3,000 human lives?

The Congress has the answer: few thousand rupees a month, a couple of official cars, and a handful of bureaucrats bobbing around at your beck and call. Let us be honest, that is the sum total that Jagdish Tytler has lost by resigning from the Union council of ministers.

Standing alone Mr Tytler?

I am not an expert on the subject, but surely the deliberate murder of 3,000 innocent Sikhs in Delhi deserves a little more by way of justice.

Let me take you back a little, to the night of December 6, 2003. Earlier that evening, Arun Jaitley and several other BJP leaders had played tapes to the assembled media, supposedly recordings of Ajit Jogi trying to bribe his way back into power by luring newly elected BJP MLAs in Chhattisgarh.

As I recall, the Congress burned the midnight oil and the next morning Ambika Soni strode out to announce that Jogi had been suspended from the party. Having a hand in rioting that caused 3,000 deaths is a far graver charge than bribery. So why is the Congress fighting shy of taking any real action against Tytler?

Even the resignation when it finally arrived seemed to be wrung dry of any true remorse, coming as it did after several hours of staunch defence in a Lok Sabha debate. It was only after an Opposition sponsored vote on the Nanavati Commission had been voted down that Tytler came before the television cameras, to announce his resignation and pronounce his innocence in the same breath.

It speaks volumes of the power structure in the United Progressive Alliance that Tytler made it clear that his resignation letter had been given not to poor Dr Manmohan Singh but to Sonia Gandhi. Our nominal 'prime minister' is little more than a mukhauta (mask), and the Congress let the fact slip when it was trying to defend its own role in the looting, arson, and mass murders of November 1984.

'How dare anyone say that we are anti-Sikh?' came the defence, 'Are we not the party that has made a Sikh the prime minister of India and simultaneously made another Sikh the army chief of staff?'

This is not just nonsense, it is dangerous nonsense. Is the Congress saying that Dr Manmohan Singh was elevated to the prime ministership of India not because of his administrative skills but because he happened to be born into a Sikh family?

Is the Congress claiming that it gave the highly sensitive post of chief of staff of the Indian Army to Joginder Jaswant Singh because of his religion rather than because of his competence? (For the record, General Singh was commissioned into the 9 Maratha Light Infantry in August 1964, not into any of the Sikh regiments.) And dare one ask if other posts are going to be filled using religion as a criterion?

Even setting aside the thought that the communal card is being played to fill important offices of state, the Congress defence simply does not make sense. Which penal code says that a single murder -- leave alone the mass killings of 1984 -- can be justified if other people from the same community are rewarded twenty years later?

Who said what before Justice Nanavati

As I understand it, the Nanavati Commission has not said that Tytler, Sajjan Kumar, and a handful of other bigwigs were responsible for all the atrocities of 1984. The conclusion seems to be that several Congress functionaries -- municipal corporators and so on -- had a hand. Common sense also hammers home the fact that the Delhi police would not have stood by so idly as Delhi burned had there not been political interference. And why was the Army called in so late in the day?

This is one of the gray areas of the Nanavati Commission's report. One might understand if a grieving and distracted Rajiv Gandhi failed to notice that Delhi was plunging into chaos around him, but what of his home minister? Was Narasimha Rao equally blind?

I was not in the capital when Indira Gandhi was gunned down. But the Delhi to which I returned was a city that still bore the bleeding wounds of battle, from the burnt husks of cars on the road to the plumes of smoke I saw when I went up to my terrace. If all this was visible a week after the riots began, please do not try to convince me that the Union home ministry could not see them on the evening of October 31, 1984!

It is the same story over and over again, the Congress has lost its moral compass after regaining power. It had to be prodded by the President and the Supreme Court to do the right thing when Shibu Soren staged his coup in Jharkhand. It took public and private protests by the Left Front and the Opposition for Jagdish Tytler to be eased out.

The twenty-first century incarnation of the Congress operates by a single rule: 'Brazen it out!

T V R Shenoy