Digvijay Singh, who, a few months back, lied about phone conversations with Hemant Karkare, is a throwback to the worst sort of Congress 'secularism'. It's a secularism which panders to religious conservatives among Hindus as well as Muslims. It began under Indira Gandhi and peaked in Rajiv Gandhi's time, symbolised by the twin acts of overturning the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case, and opening the gates of the Babri Masjid to allow a shilanyas to take place. These actions, instead of pleasing members of both communities, led instead to sectarian polarisation, and to Muslim as well as Hindu partisans being able to speak with some justice of the Congress favouring the other side.
Under Manmohan Singh, the party has generally avoided dabbling in religious issues, which is great. But Digvijay Singh, as I said, is a throwback. As Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, he tried to counter the BJP by launching his own campaign for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter; extolling the virtues of cow urine; and accusing his opponent Uma Bharti of offering non-vegetarian cake to Hanuman.
Recently, he's switched to feeding off Muslim resentment. Yesterday, for example, he criticised the United States for not giving Osama bin Laden a sufficiently Muslim burial. Well, if he has a problem with Osama's final rites, he should be even more critical of the way the 26/11 terrorists were treated. The bodies of the nine dead men were embalmed, in direct contravention of Islamic norms, and kept on ice at the J J Hospital morgue for fifteen whole months, though orthodox Islam demands a burial within 24 hours. We have no idea if any religious rites were conducted before their bodies were finally placed in the earth.
Digvijay Singh's own party rules Maharashtra state; why didn't he lobby for a proper religious burial for the nine Bombay terrorists, since he has so much concern for mass murderers?