The Congress party’s foot-in-mouth disease seems to be reaching epidemic proportions.
First it was the shoddy handling of the corruption charges. Then came its rank of extremely senior ministers like Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid making a fool of themselves and now comes the Congress Chief Minister of Assam - Tarun Gogoi, who finds his own foot thrust deep inside his own mouth.
In a public meeting a couple of days back, he made a comment to rival Jawaharlal Nehru’s. He said, perhaps in the rush of the moment, “There’s not a single Bangladeshi in Assam. If there is, tell them to show me.”
Of course he has since denied having made the comment only for the News channels to have a field day making the CM a lying, laughing stock by running the footage of him saying it over and over again.
On one extreme are the Hindu rightwing of the state who have made the issue of Bangladeshi immigrants in the region into a religious one, going to the extent of declaring them ‘illegal’ humans without pausing to wonder how can any human being anywhere, become ‘illegal’.
On the other extreme is Gogoi’s remarks that sweeps over three decades of agitation in Assam over the same issue below the carpet. Somewhere in between languish millions of Bangladeshis who find themselves stranded in a country not their own and whose local population is up in arms against them.
It is an issue that simply seems to be stuck in an ugly, and even a comical stalemate. Especially considering that an 11 member team of MPs from Bangladesh of different political parties visiting Assam made a statement to the press here that, “The Government of India has never raised the issue of infiltration at diplomatic levels with Bangladesh.”
The two statements coming simultaneously have ensured that what so far had seemed merely like the ‘foot-in-mouth disease’ now looks like a full fledged hara-kiri by the Congress party.
The Bangladeshi delegation is meanwhile busy doing what was perhaps its first priority – having fun. They were pictured romancing the rhinos of Kaziranga on elephant backs.
Image: Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi smiles as he sits in his official residence after the Congress party victory in the Assam State Assembly elections 2011 leading to a third straight term, in Guwahati on May 13, 2011.