Digvijaya Singh, currently one of the general secretaries in the Congress party, was born in February 1947. Given this he must have been in his late teens when the Yash Chopra-directed multi-starrer Waqt released in 1965.
While I am not sure whether Singh is a movie buff or not, chances are he might have seen the movie. We all do when we are in our teens.
There are two things from Waqt that have survived the test of times. One is the qawwali “ae meri zohra jabeen” sung by Manna De, set to tune by Ravi, and written by the great Sahir Ludhianvi.
Another is a dialogue written by Akhtar-Ul-Iman and spoken by Raj Kumar in the movie, which goes like this: “Chinoi Seth…jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon, wo dusron par pathar nahi feka karte (Chinoi Seth…those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones at others).”
Even if Digvijaya Singh hasn’t seen this movie — which goes on for 206 minutes — he would be well-advised to watch this 18-second YouTube clip to realise that those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones at others.
Singh has accused Narendra Modi of being well trained by the Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS) in the “Nazi tradition” of false propaganda. He tweeted twice on this to say:
1. "Sangh trains its cadre in disinformation campaign. Obviously Modi has been trained well! Sangh has modelled itself in the Nazi tradition.”
2. "Sangh training to its cadre. Jhoot bolo zor se, bolo aur baar baar bolo (Tell a lie, tell it loudly and tell it repeatedly). Doesn't it remind you of Hitler's Goebbels?"
These tweets came after Modi accused the government of having spent Rs 1,880 crore in the treatment of Sonia Gandhi’s illness and other foreign travels. Modi claimed to have got this number from a media report.
Singh has compared Modi to Paul Joseph Goebbels who was a German politician and Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. There is no denying that Modi is probably wrong — and possibly deliberately wrong — with his Rs 1,880 crore claim but the fact of the matter is that the Congress leaders, including Digvijaya Singh, have been doing the same thing that they have just accused Modi of — raising false propaganda, over and over again.
Let’s take a look at something that Digvijaya Singh said in the context of the Coalgate scam some time back. “The way the CAG is going, it is clear he (i.e. Vinod Rai) has political ambitions like TN Chaturvedi (a former CAG who later joined the BJP). He has been giving notional and fictional figures that have no relevance to facts. How has he computed these figures? He is talking through his hat,” said Singh.
The CAG had computed the losses resulting from giving away coal blocks for free at Rs 1,86,000 crore. Singh would like us to believe that the figures put out by the CAG were notional and fictional and had no relevance to facts. As I explain here, it was Singh and not the CAG who was talking through his hat.
Singh’s esteemed colleague, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also tried to tell the nation that there had been no loss in Coalgate. “If coal is not mined, where is the loss? The loss will only occur if coal is sold at a certain price or undervalued,” said Chidambaram.
The Union Finance Minister wanted us to believe that since almost all companies which got free coal blocks had not started to mine coal till date, hence there have been no losses. This is like saying that I gave away my house for free, but since the person I gave it to is not able to sell it, I did not face any losses.
Chidambaram was basically trying to confuse us by mixing two issues here. One is the fact that the government gave away the blocks for free. And another is the inability of the companies who got these blocks to start mining coal. Just because these companies haven’t been able to mine coal doesn’t mean that the government of India did not face a loss by giving away the mines for free. (You can read the complete argument here).
Kapil Sibal, the Union Communications Minister, wanted us to believe that the government hadn’t faced any losses by giving away spectrum to telecom companies on a first-come-first-served basis at 2001 prices rather than auctioning them. The CAG had put these presumptive losses at Rs 1,76,000 crore. What these examples clearly bring out is that Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh are indulging in false propaganda of the worst kind, something they have just accused Narendra Modi of.
Another interesting point is that there can be a clear difference of opinion when it comes to the losses suffered by the government on account of Coalgate. The assumptions that CAG worked with put the losses at Rs 1,86,000 crore. As I showed in an earlier piece, with some more aggressive assumptions the losses could have even shown to be at Rs Rs 13.5 lakh crore (You can read about it here).
But there can be no such variation when it comes to the amount of money that the government has been spending on the treatment of Sonia Gandhi’s illness (if at all it has). A very simple way to puncture Narendra Modi’s argument is to just tell the nation how much money has really been spent.
Modi claims that the government has spent around Rs 1,880 crore, or around $356 million, on Sonia Gandhi’s "five-star" trips, including those for her treatment. That’s a lot of money. If that is not the right amount, what is the right amount? All it needs is a simple clarification from the government.
And that hasn’t come so far. What has come is a comment that accuses Modi of being a Nazi. As an earlier piece on this website pointed out, there is an RTI application pending before the UPA government asking for details of her visits, the amounts spent and for what purposes. What Singh’s comment also shows is that the Congress doesn’t know how to tackle Modi in Gujarat.
Sonia Gandhi in 2007 had labelled him maut ka saudagar. Singh has now labelled him a Nazi. By trying to tarnish Modi's image the Congress is only helping Brand Modi become much stronger — at least in Gujarat. And that can’t be clearly good for a party which claims to be secular.
Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at email@example.com
more in Breaking Views