tharoor176_SAM PANTHAKYAFP via Getty Images_modiBJP Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images

Hypocrisy on Stilts in India

All Indian political parties claim to adhere to a national consensus: political differences end at the water’s edge. But while representatives of the Bharatiya Janata Party charge their opponents with criticizing the country abroad, their own leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the first to violate the norm against doing so.

NEW DELHI – India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is outraged again. On a recent visit to the United Kingdom, Rahul Gandhi – the leader of the Indian National Congress, the country’s main opposition party – stated that India’s democracy is under attack, and that this has global implications. Back in India, his comments triggered an uproar.

Several BJP representatives voiced outrage, characteristically exaggerated for effect. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, a former cabinet minister, accused Gandhi of calling upon the United States and Europe to “interfere in the internal affairs of India,” and demanded that both Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and his predecessor, Sonia Gandhi, “disown” Gandhi’s “irresponsible and shameful comments.” He concluded by declaring that the BJP “would like to emphatically state with great agony that Rahul Gandhi, in his speeches, has sought to shame India’s democracy, polity, Parliament, political system, and judicial system.”

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur was no less melodramatic, pleading with Gandhi not to “betray” India before issuing a warning: “No one will believe the lies you spread about India from foreign soil.” Thakur then tried to discredit Gandhi, calling him a “storm of controversies” who “does not lose a single opportunity to malign India,” and Congress as a whole, which, by taking “local issues to the United Nations,” had shown that it had “not yet come out of the thought of slavery.”

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