Some of the news items related to the Congress and its new-found love for Hindus remind me of a story I once heard from my Aunt, a nice story about Akbar and Birbal.
Emperor Akbar was once enjoying the fragrance of an expensive Persian perfume, the elegant perfume bottle in his hand. In a moment of inattention, the bottle slipped and a few drops of perfume spilled on the floor. It was an expensive perfume and instinctively the emperor bent over, and quickly tried to absorb the few drops that had spilled, with his fingers, upset over the wastage of an expensive perfume.
Birbal, his wise minister, standing a few feet away smiled but said nothing. Akbar, who held Birbal and his wisdom in high esteem, felt a little embarrassed at his sudden gesture. After all, he was the mighty emperor of Hindustan, and why should he care if a few drops of perfumes were lost? He decided to show Birbal how this wastage had no impact on him.
The next day he ordered the huge water tank in Agra, the one which was used as a pubic bath, to be filled with the most expensive Persian perfumes. He then threw it open to the populace of Agra, each one free to take as much perfume as they could from the bath, riches which a common man could only dream of.
Akbar and Birbal both were standing on the terrace of the palace, enjoying the sight of citizens, filling their containers with perfume, and thankful to the mighty emperor. Akbar looked at Birbal, and asked, “what do you think Birbal, how was that?”.
Birbal smiled his enigmatic smile and said, “Baadshah Salamat, what is once lost by a drop, won’t be gained by a pond”
Over the last few months, we have seen news reports of the Congress party trying to ingratiate itself with the Hindu community. First we had reports of a decision to officially celebrate Holi and Diwali every year because the closest Congress came to celebrating any religious function was the regular Iftaar parties it held on Eid. We then saw AK Antony acknowledge publicly that Congress was perceived as too close to minority community and that might have cost it the majority votes. We also lately had Janardan Dwivedi acknowledge that Modi’s win was a win of “Indianness”.
The massive rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has led to the very late realization within the Congress that decades of their biased attitude and calculated antipathy towards the Hindu community and the naked embrace of Muslim appeasement has alienated the Hindu populace perhaps permanently. After years of taking the Hindu vote for granted, and losing rapid ground in both communities, the Congress realises it cannot claw back to power unless it carves out a decent share of the Hindu vote.
The history of Muslim appeasement of the Congress party, and a bias towards the Hindu community is not new and can be traced back to the pre-1947 era. Its first clear signs appeared during the Khilafat Movement in 1930s when Gandhiji supported this movement, which occurred in faraway Turkey in the hope that Indian Muslims will support the Congress. A series of such gestures, which culminated in the formation of the Sachar committee and twisting the mandate to give biased recommendations, generous grants for Haj and land endowments for Waqf boards, and the famous Shah Bano case in the Rajiv era, have been but a few of the illustrious examples of Muslim appeasement by the Congress.
While the Muslim vote is shifting to other parties for a variety of reasons, Hindus have been slowly and surely drifting away from the Congress with the 2014 elections being a major milestone in Hindus turning their back on the grand old party.
Birbal gently chided Akbar on his futile attempts to regain his prestige which he symbolically lost in Birbal’s eyes when he tried to pick up the drops of perfume spilled on the floor.
However, the Congress is going in a reverse direction. Its years of neglect and an attitude of perfidy towards Hindus cannot be undone by a few token claims of celebrating Hindu festivals or empty sloganeering.
Lost by pond, won’t be gained by drops, indeed.