'Rajiv Gandhi played Hindus against Muslims'

Rajiv Gandhi
New Delhi, Sep 16: Holding former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi responsible for dividing Muslims and the Hindus ahead of the crucial Ayodhya verdict on Sep 24, French historian Christophe Jaffrelot has raised questions if Congress-led UPA would come into power again.

“From the Shah Bano case to opening the mosque on VHP"s request to launching his election campaign from 'Ram"s land" Faizabad, he [Rajiv Gandhi] was playing Hindus against Muslims and vice-versa," the political pundit said.

Even though he cautioned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against re-launching its anti-Muslim campaign using the party's debacle in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as an example, Jafferlot opined that there was a very good possibility of the BJP coming to power in the future against the "divided" Congress-led UPA.

“You cannot reduce BJP to anti-minority agenda. It has other cards up its sleeve. It may come to power not because it will do something but because Congress will fail to do things. The UPA is divided and paralytic. A strong PM is absent to manage the team," he said.

“Congress needs a Gandhi. Sans a Gandhi, it is faction-ridden. [NCP chief and agriculture minister] Sharad Pawar and [Trinamool Congress chief and railway minister] Mamata Banerjee moved out when there was no Gandhi around. No doubt Congress will promote Rahul," he added.

Jaffrelot, who teaches South Asian politics and history at SciencesPo in Paris, made these statements during the launch of his book, titled 'Religion, Caste and Politics in India', at the French embassy here.

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