Congress’s choice

Drop Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as Lok Sabha candidates

The past is never another country. When a journalist showed impatience with the home minister’s answers about the CBI’s clean chit to Jagdish Tytler, he showed it with an intemperateness that’s impossible to defend. And the act and the rhetoric that the incident has sparked have swiftly converted this into more than a story about a journalist and his conduct. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots never really went away from the public arena, but the politics surrounding Jarnail Singh have brought them back four-square in pre-election discourse. At the heart of that discourse for the Congress must be a choice: does it want to keep knotting itself in arguments on technicalities on those tainted by 1984 or can it cut its losses by reconsidering tickets for Tytler and Sajjan Kumar?

 

Many inquiry commissions have looked into the circumstances surrounding the violence against Sikhs that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. But as is the way with most inquiry commissions, isolation of the guilty with evidence has been an elusive goal. So, without legal proof, one cannot assign guilt to Tytler and Kumar, or indeed to anyone else. But what does the Congress say about its admissions of regret at what happened in those dark days when it re-nominates for a Delhi constituency a man who had to resign as Union minister in 2005 after the Nanavati commission of inquiry reported that “there is credible evidence against Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs”. Tytler can, as is his right, argue his case and plead that the evidence be substantiated. But as the reactions to the “clean chit” given to him by the CBI show, very strong sentiments are attached to the subject. The Congress can argue the nominations on the basis of narrow technicalities, but it then does so with the air of a party wanting to score points about allegations made and perhaps not substantiated about the 1984 riots.

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