By Sushil Kutty
The bomb blasts in Kerala are a reminder that war – anywhere in the world – is never far from politics. The Kerala blasts along with the conflagration it triggered has had a serious impact on politics in India. There is now a Centre-State battle on the cards with the LDF government accusing a central minister of taking advantage of the blasts to malign Kerala’s peace-loving people living in perpetual harmony.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party the blasts have come at a time when it is going all out with its No.1 poll plank for the 2024 general elections – the Hindu-Muslim divide and the dangers of Islamic extremism to India. The October 7 Hamas slaughter of Israelis was godsend for the BJP’s poll agenda. That is not to say that the Kerala blasts had anything to do with the BJP’s poll preparations. It is just to point out how naturally cards fall in place.
Politics is sizzling after the blasts. It helps that there is a religious link. Also, the Christian sect “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Jews” share ‘J’ for starters and there are people who are linking the blasts to the Israel-Hamas War.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was in New Delhi at a dharna against the “Israeli attack on Gaza”. He rushed back to Kerala and went hammer and tongs against social media. His preference for the term “unfortunate incident” has, however, come in for flak.
With the NIA now involved, the politics surrounding the blasts can get hotter by the day. The fact that a Hamas leader virtually addressed the Muslim dominated “Malappuram” the day before the blasts has provided grist for the political mill. CPM state secretary MV Govindan wondered if the blasts were because of the “solidarity for the Palestine cause”. And Congress MP Shashi added his mite by saying “to see my state falling prey to the mentality of killing and destruction is tragic.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will have the last word though. The BJP is already casting doubts on the one man who surrendered with the claim that he was behind the blasts. From now on it will be NIA vs. Kerala Police. And Kerala has its version of ‘Godi Media’.
The problem is the Modi government is not as open as the Biden administration when it comes to the Israel-Hamas war. US Vice President Kamala Harris the other day said the United States had “no intention” to send troops to Israel or Gaza. Harris spoke for US President Joe Biden whose rhetoric on the Israel-Hamas War has been anything but reassuring.
Anti-war protests across the world haven’t cut ice with the Biden administration of which there have been doubts whether VP Kamala Harris was a part of. Harris, however, gave the impression she was in command but the question should have been asked of her when would President Biden order US warships to get as far away from Gaza as they could?
The reality is, US military/naval assets wouldn’t leave Israel to the designs of the “Russia-China-Iran-Turkey Axis”, ever. Harris buttressed this reality when she said “Israel has the right to defend itself” though she parroted that Palestinians deserved safety and security. “It is very important that there be no conflation between Hamas and the Palestinians. The Palestinians deserve equal measures of safety and security, self-determination and dignity,” Harris said.
Where she erred like most everybody concerned about Palestinian casualties from the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was to differentiate between Palestinians and Hamas. The only difference between the two is that while the Hamas are armed Palestinians, Gaza’s tortured residents are unarmed Palestinians who also believe in the “Hamas Charter”.
The problem with Muslims is that strength in numbers almost always make them run loose with the tongue. Adherents of the youngest and the fastest growing religion should learn from Vice President Harris. With her statement, the United States is in the clear despite the symbols of war anchored off the Gaza coast in the Mediterranean Sea and voluble support to Israel.
Harris should have cautioned the “Muslim world” from getting into an all-out war with Israel. There are lessons in the on-going Russia-Ukraine War. Besides, Hamas is a designated terrorist organization. It is another matter that a pusillanimous Modi regime is shy of stating this aloud.
Every time somebody/some entity stands with the murderous Hamas, the Modi dispensation’s duplicity comes to the fore. The United States on the other hand openly supports Israel and has declared Hamas “terrorist”. The Modi government doesn’t speak of 1,400 Israelis slaughtered by Hamas and its humanitarian assistance to the besieged Palestinians of Gaza screams “token”.
Unlike Israelis, Gaza’s Palestinian civilians don’t have the means to defend themselves. They cannot fight nor can they take to flight. Not on empty stomachs and not when bombs are raining all around. It is an unequal confrontation. Harris conflated Israel and Ukraine and their fights with Hamas and Russia. Harris was emphatic that the war in the Ukraine wasn’t over because of the war in Gaza.
Year 2024 is election year for both India and the United States. And the Israel-Hamas War will have a great impact on the election results in both countries. The difference is that while the Biden administration is open and direct about its stand on the war, the Modi regime is closed and opaque. With the Modi regime’s refusal to name Hamas a terrorist organization, “Malappuram” cannot be accused of wanting to hear a top Hamas leader. The NIA cannot pin the blame on radical Islam as the BJP would like. (IPA Service)