The problem with Rahul's ISI claim in UP riots

While it was all about escape velocity in previous rallies, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi may have opened a can of worms by trying to paint the BJP with a communal brush and going so far as to claim that Muslim youths in Muzaffarnagar were in touch with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.

As part of his effort to ramp  up his rhetoric against the BJP, the Congress vice president has not only bared personal tragedies but has also sought to link terrorism with the opposition party.

"There are 10 to 15 such Muslim boys whose brothers and sisters were killed in the riots and who were approached by Pakistani agencies," he said during his Indore rally.

Gandhi claimed that the intelligence official told him he was working on convincing the youths not to come under the influence of the Pakistani operatives.

 The problem with Rahuls ISI claim in UP riots

Rahul's rally in Indore: PTI

BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Husain told reporters in New Delhi that Rahul has questioned the patriotism of Indian Muslims by suggesting that they are vulnerable to propaganda from across the border. “Rahul Gandhi has tried to point the needle of suspicion at Muslims by his remarks. He has raised questions about the patriotism of Indian Muslims by saying they were approached by ISI. This is unfortunate. He should apologise for his remarks,” he said.

Apart from the BJP, the Samajwadi Party which is presently providing outside support to the UPA government has also attacked the Congress Vice President over his comment.

“A leader like Rahul must not take a statement of any junior level intelligence officer so seriously as to make a comment at a rally. If he’d come to know about any such thing he should have communicated it to the UP government and the concerned ministry at the Centre,” SP's Azam Khan told The Times of India.

Even Muslim clerics haven't taken kindly to the insinuation and believe the statement could cause more harm for a community that already faces prejudices.

But was the Congress vice president talking through his hat or does he have a loquacious intelligence officer briefing him despite the fact that he's not supposed to be?

Former intelligence officers that the Times of India spoke with expressed complete surprise over the fact that intelligence officers were speaking to the political leader despite the fact that he had no binding to keep it secret.

A unnnamed senior intelligence officer was quoted as saying they would need to find out which officer had met the Congress vice president. He said:

"There can be no official briefing to Rahul Gandhi as he is not part of the government or the security establishment."

The Congress Vice President is unlikely to clarify why the intelligence agencies give political personalities like him private briefings or whether he merely was aiming to slander the opposition party by accusing them of furthering terrorism.

Intelligence agencies are often quoted as authoritative sources when it comes to pretty much any event ranging from terror attacks to even onion prices. The Congress Vice President may have conveniently used them as a shield to rake muck at his opponents but unfortunately  it only hurts their reputation more.

As expected, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi have joined the BJP in making the election as much about communal factors as about development and governance. The problem is in their one-upmanship, other institutions stand to get their reputations damaged.

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Updated Date: Oct 26, 2013 13:49:34 IST