on | Serving foreign, not Indian interests: How Hamid Ansari is a symptom of a deeper malaise

Modi-itis is a mind-bending affliction in a group of aging former power brokers, durbaris and dalals bereft of privilege and pelf

File photo of Hamid Ansari. Getty Images

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari represents a species that abounds in India: ex-civil servants, elevated beyond their position, serving foreign, not Indian, interests.

By 2007, the Congress-led UPA I government was in full swing. Although it only won 145 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections – only seven more than the BJP – the Congress government was backed by the 59 leftist MPs and other UPA allies .

Ansari, a retired Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, was plucked from the National Commission for Minorities in 2007 by Congress and elected India’s vice president. He was re-elected in 2012 for a second term under the UPA 2 government.

Ansari suited the ideological goal of Congress. When he took office in 2004, the party sought to establish itself as the main protector of minorities. With Ansari as vice president, the strategy seemed to pay off. Going against the grain, Congress won 206 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. Ansari was keen on a third term in 2017. Sensing opposition from the BJP-led NDA government, he quietly withdrew from the race.

While an IFS officer until 1999, Ansari kept a veil over his fundamentalist ideology. The veil, however, often slipped.

Between 1990 and 1992, Ansari served as India’s Ambassador to Iran. The period was a penumbra in Indian politics. Prime Minister VP Singh resigned in November 1990 after 11 months in office. Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar served for seven months until June 1991 before giving way to Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. A few weeks earlier, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated by a female Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber.

So, in a frantic period of less than two years, India has sworn in three prime ministers and witnessed the assassination of a former prime minister. No one in the Delhi political establishment paid much attention to what Ambassador Ansari was doing in Iran.

What was he doing ?

RK Yadav, a former senior officer in India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) intelligence agency, has written a book titled R&AW mission. Published in 2017, it revealed Ansari’s role in Iran. Yadav said Ansari had seriously compromised India’s intelligence operations in Iran. He refused to cooperate when a RAW agent in Tehran was kidnapped by the Iranian intelligence agency.

Narasimha Rao was prime minister. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then leader of the opposition, convinced Rao to persuade Iran to release the RAW agent. Ansari had, however, caused long-term damage to the Indian intelligence network in Iran.

As Yadav wrote in his book, “Most R&AW operations suffered a setback after this incident as its operatives became insecure due to Ansari’s inaction. R&AW operatives had entered the inside the religious center of Qom to monitor the activities of some Kashmiri elements whose activities were detrimental to the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, but this incident made them abort further infiltrations inside this center at this time -the.


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Given his background in Iran, it is not surprising that Ansari accepted an invitation to attend a conference organized by the radical Islamist Popular Front of India (PFI) in September 2017, a few weeks after leaving his vice-president of India.

It is against this background that Ansari’s participation in a virtual conference organized late last month by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an Islamist body, should be assessed.

Ansari echoed worn tropes: the rise of “Hindu nationalism” and “the emergence of trends and practices that challenge the well-established principle of civic nationalism.”

Ansari went on to say, “It interposes a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism. It seeks to present an electoral majority under the guise of a religious majority and monopolized political power. It wants to distinguish citizens according to their faith, give free rein to intolerance, insinuate otherness, foster anxiety and insecurity. Some of its recent protests are chilling and reflect poorly on our claim to be governed by the rule of law. This is a question that must be answered. These trends must be challenged and challenged legally and challenged politically.

Other attendees at the ADRIC conference were US lawmakers well known as anti-India lobbyists, many of whom were on the payroll of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Ansari is not taken seriously in India or the United States. But, more importantly, he represents a cabal in India that seeks to undermine the national interest.

The telltale pug marks of this cabal are everywhere: among sections of the media, far-left activists and lawyers, opposition leaders tasked with disrupting parliament, retired army officers who write news articles based on misleading defense data, ex-IFS bureaucrats advocating rethinking Siachen, Track 2 specialists with vested interests and, even worse, a Delhi ecosystem of durbari journalists who form a mutual back-scratching club. Their Twitter feeds praise each other’s rambling articles. This cabal of socio-economic climbers, uprooted from Lutyens in 2014, relocated to Khan Market.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with venting diverse opinions. A democracy would be intellectually desiccated without fierce dissent. The problem is when facts are fabricated to fit a prefixed narrative.

Governments must be criticized, their policies scrutinized and their leaders held accountable. But selective criticism based on fixed facts is not criticism. It’s propaganda.

Ansari is a symptom of a deeper malaise that has gripped India since Modi came to power in 2014.

Modi-itis is an ailment that disturbs the minds of a group of aging former power brokers, durbaris and dalals deprived of privileges and pelf. They belittle India to belittle Modi. It’s a rash tactic that will discredit them, not him.

The writer is editor, author and publisher. The opinions expressed here are personal.

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