The war between Israel and the Hamas – in which over 1,600 people have died so far and more than two lakh displaced – has spawned a political row in India after the Congress released a statement expressing the party’s “long-standing support for the rights of the Palestinian people”.
The BJP, which has set out its stall in support of Israel, hit out at the communique and accused the opposition party of supporting terrorism and being a “hostage to minority vote bank politics”.
On Monday the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest-decision making body, expressed its “dismay and anguish” over the war and underlined its support of the Palestinian peoples’ right to “land (and) self-government, and to live with dignity and respect”.
“Congress’s CWC resolution on Israel war is a classic example of how Indian foreign policy was hostage to Congress’s minority vote bank politics, until Modi happened,” BJP MP Tejasvi Surya responded on X.
“… reminder on how quickly things will go back to zero if we aren’t vigilant in 2024,” the firebrand MP continued, taking a swipe at the Congress ahead of next year’s election.
Congress’s CWC resolution on Israel war is a classic example of how Indian foreign policy was hostage to Congress’s minority vote bank politics, until Modi happened.
Also, a reminder on how quickly things will go back to zero if we aren’t vigilant in 2024. https://t.co/nJYk3mDCwq
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) October 9, 2023
Sources have now said the Congress’ statement highlights divisions within the party, and that the section on the Israel-Hamas war had not been well-received by all those at the CWC meeting.
Sources also suggested the inclusion of that section in the statement was a major sticking point and that it was not part of the original draft. It is unclear how it came to be released.
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had particularly not wanted it included in a resolution that was to focus on the party’s position on the cast census.
The statement that was to be released was a pre-election resolution saying the Congress, if voted to power next year, will conduct a national caste census and implement a quota for other backward classes, or OBCs, in the women’s reservation bill that was passed last month.
The disagreement over the war in the Middle East was over the Congress not mentioning acts of terror by Hamas fighters who crossed the border into Israel and went on a murderous spree, including slaughtering nearly 300 people at a music festival and killing children and elderly.
The Congress’ statement on Palestine – whether or not it was meant to be released – comes days after the BJP shared a video montage of terror attacks on Indian soil to attack the Congress.
“What Israel is facing today, India suffered between 2004-14. Never forgive, never forget…”
What Israel is facing today, India suffered between 2004-14. Never forgive, never forget… pic.twitter.com/QJsit0KZab
— BJP (@BJP4India) October 7, 2023
That was followed by a second video attack, in which the BJP compared the Hamas’ attack to the 26/11 terror strikes on Mumbai and declared, “Israel has just declared war… What did India, under a weak kneed Congress, do?… senior Congress leaders even absolved Pakistan.”
The Congress has also taken pot-shots at the BJP on this topic; on Monday the party pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had commented – within nine hours – on the crisis in the Middle East, but waited for nearly three months before speaking on ethnic violence in Manipur.
PM Modi – who has been pressed for a “miracle” amid buzz India may play peacemaker – today also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and told his counterpart “India stands with Israel..”