Every time there's an election in India, Pakistan becomes BJP's "go-to" country. Or so it seems.
BJP president Amit Shah once again tried to drag Pakistan into its poll debate, this time in Karnataka, referring to a tweet by Islamabad that praised Tipu Sultan.
Congress and Pakistan have amazing telepathy.Yesterday Pakistan Government remembered Tipu Sultan, whose Jayanti Congress marks with fanfare and today Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar admires Jinnah. Be it Gujarat or Karnataka polls, I fail to understand why Congress involves Pakistan! pic.twitter.com/isH9GmgET2— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 5, 2018
Of course, this is not the first time that Shah and his party have a problem with Pakistan, Congress or Tipu Sultan. Over the past few years, the BJP has dubbed Tipu Sultan as "anti-Hindu" and has condemned Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah on a number of occasions for celebrating the birth anniversary of the former ruler of Mysore.
Last week, the Pakistan government had praised Tipu Sultan while remembering him on his death anniversary. The Pakistan government’s official Twitter handle wrote, "Revisiting an important and influential historical figure, the Tiger of Mysore - Tipu Sultan on his death anniversary. Right from his early years, he was trained in the art of warfare and had a fascination for learning."
Countering Shah's tweet, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: "There should be clapping for the uncanny timing. Wonder how Pakistan woke up in the middle of the Karnataka election to tweet about Tipu Sultan. This is a deliberately created coincidence."
The big question here is: Who drags Pakistan or makes it a party to Indian elections? Is it the Congress, as Amit Shah alleges, or is it the BJP itself?
Gujarat Assembly election
On December 10, 2017, during a poll campaign in Gujarat’s Palanpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that Congress leaders had held a secret meeting with important people from Pakistan before Mani Shankar Aiyar called him a "neech" person.
Modi said, "You people must have read the newspaper about the incident at Mani Shankar Aiyar's house. It was an issue of hot debate in newspapers and media yesterday that a meeting between former Pakistan high commissioner, former minister of external affairs of Pakistan, former vice president Hamid Ansari and former PM Manmohan Singh was held at Mani Shankar Aiyar's house. The meeting had run for three hours and the next day he called me 'neech' (lowly)."
He went on to add: "This is an issue of serious concern that when Pakistan has become a sensitive issue for the country then what was the reason to hold a secret meeting with Pakistan when the polls are being held in Gujarat. Former director general of Pakistan army Arshad Rafiq has insisted that Ahmed Patel should be made CM of Gujarat.
"Former Pakistan army director general intervened in Gujarat election. They held meeting with Pakistanis at Mani Shankar's house and the very next day, the backward community of Gujarat, Modi and poor people of Gujarat were insulted.
"Is it not an issue of concern for the country? The Congress must answer what suspicious activities they are doing. They must answer the country."
So, it was Modi who dragged Pakistan saying it was conspiring with the Congress party to defeat the BJP. Fingers were pointed at former prime minister Manmohan Singh along with former vice-president Hamid Ansari. Seventeen days later, the BJP didn't exactly apologise, but it said that PM Modi didn't mean to question Manmohan Singh's commitment to India.
Union minister Arun Jaitley said, "The PM in his speeches didn't question, nor meant to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or former VP Hamid Ansari, any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India."
This clearly was a volte face for the BJP because what Prime Miniser Narendra Modi said wasn’t true.
UP Assembly election
In 2017, during his campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi made similar anti-Pakistan statements. Addressing an election rally in Gonda district, the Prime Minister said: “The derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on November 20 last year was a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border... Gonda is adjoining Nepal."
He further said: "If the cross-border foes want to carry out their work, is it not necessary that more vigil is maintained in Gonda?"
However, after the PM spoke, home minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that “the prime minister did not directly mention the ISI’s name in the Kanpur train derailment case” and investigation in the three train accidents were yet to be completed by the NIA.
Bihar Assembly polls
"If BJP loses Bihar, crackers will be burst in Pakistan."
On October 29, 2015, during Bihar Assembly polls, BJP president Amit Shah, during a rally in Raxaul, said: “Agar BJP galti se bhi Bihar me haarti hai to jay-parajay toh Bihar me hogi, pataake Pakistan mein chhutenge."
Not only this, the BJP placed front page advertisements in local newspapers targeting the Nitish government for being “soft on terrorists” and not taking strict action at the time of arrest of Indian Mujahideen leader Yasin Bhatkal.
Antony, Kejriwal 'Pakistani agents'
During the Lok Sabha election campaign, on March 26, 2014, Narendra Modi said: "Three AKs help Pakistan. AK-47 (rifle) is used by terrorists who shed Indian blood... then there is AK Antony, the defence minister who says Indian soldiers were beheaded by persons wearing uniforms of Pakistan army, when the Army said clearly the soldiers were beheaded by Pakistan army men."
Hitting out at Arvind Kejriwal, Modi had alleged, "The third is AK-49 - he has just given birth to a party and on his party's official website he has given away Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. One of his associates says there should be a referendum in Kashmir. They are speaking Pakistan's language."
AK-49 was a clear reference to Kejriwal’s 49 days as chief minister of Delhi in his first stint.
Pakistan president singing 'Sonia tune'
In 2002 Gujarat Assembly election, a day after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee countered Pervez Musharraf’s criticism of the Gujarat killings at the UN, Modi, the then chief minister picked up the cue and converted it into an election issue. Modi said: “Mian Musharraf’s language is borrowed from the Congress. Both are saying the same thing.”
He further said, “...the songs which Sonia Gandhi and some English TV channels were singing about Gujarat after Godhra have obviously been heard across the border. Now Mian Musharraf is repeating their accusations against me in an international forum. Isn’t it strange that Pakistan, which has engineered so much bloodshed in Kashmir and forced its Hindus out, should try to teach me lessons in communal harmony?”
Modi went after Musharraf and said, “Mian Musharraf, the conspiracy to destabilise India was hatched in Pakistan. But you must remember there are many more Muslims in India than in your country where one Islamic sect is always fighting another. At least in India Muslims are able to live in peace.”
All these examples clearly reflect that from 2002 till date, using making Pakistan a party to Indian elections has always been part of Modi-Shah’s electoral strategy.
Modi suggested in 2002 that Pakistan, along with the Congress party, was conspiring to defeat him.
In 2018, Amit Shah is making the same point and telling how Pakistan is working in tandem with BJP's opponent, that is, the Congress party, against the interest of Hindus and the saffron party.