Singh vs. Gabbard – Indian double-speak

As the federal Election Day is getting closer, the surge in popularity of the New Democratic leader, Jagmeet Singh, following political debates, is giving anxiety to the Indian establishment and its apologists within the South Asian diaspora in Canada.

The Indian state sees Singh – who is the first turbaned Sikh leader of any national party in Canada – as a threat to its sovereignty.

Ever since Singh ran for the leadership, the Indian agents in Canada have been trying hard to get him defeated. Now, when the polls are suggesting that the election might result in a minority Liberal government, with the balance of power coming into the hands of the New Democrats, they will apply every tool in their tool box to bring the Conservatives to power through their supporters in the predominantly South Asian ridings.

The reason for their hostility towards Singh is rooted in his campaign for justice for the victims of the 1984 Sikh genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India following the assassination of the then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards, in the first week of November 1984. The massacre was engineered by the supporters of the slain leader, with the help of the police. For years, the Sikh diaspora has been fighting for justice and closure. Singh had vehemently participated in the campaign, as MPP in Ontario, because of which the Indian government declined to give him visa to visit the home country of his parents.

The matter did not end there as Singh remains critical of human rights abuse in India. He had refused to meet the current right wing Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister,NarendraModi, when he visited Canada in 2015. 

Modi was complicit in anti-Muslim massacre in Gujarat in 2002. The violence followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims. Over 50 people had died in the incident that was instantly blamed on Muslims by Modi, who was the Chief Minister of the state back then, even though one commission of inquiry had found that it was an accident.  
Recently, Singh came out with a strong statement against the repression of Muslims in the Indian-occupied Kashmir.
For this, the pro-India lobby has repeatedly branded him as a Sikh separatist. This may be partly because he endorses the right to self-determination by all minorities and oppressed groups anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, this narrative has not only been accepted by the right wing Hindu nationalists in Canada, but also by a section of the pro-India leftists. They have decided not to support him in the election, which is obviously going to help the Conservatives and, to some extent, the Liberals. It is a separate matter that the Indian government is also suspicious of the ruling Liberals, who have been often accused,by the Indian politicians,of pandering to Sikh separatists in Canada.

For the records, Conservatives have a cosy relationship with Modi, who they see as a strong ideological ally in India.

It’s a shame that the Indian establishment has stooped to such level and isn’t willing to respect the mandate of theCanadian citizens, while, at the same time, patronizing political figures like TulsiGabbard across the border.

Much like Singh, Gabbard is also a Democrat and is seeking to run for the US Presidency. Many of her positions, in terms of domestic politics, are seen as progressive, but her allegiance to the Hindu right in India has never come into question. 

A practicing Hindu, Gabbard is a staunch supporter of Modi and has gone to the extent of justifying violence against Muslims in Gujarat. When Modi was denied visa by the US government because of his involvement in the pogrom, Gabbard came to his rescue. So much so, she has been supported, both financially and politically, by the followers of a powerful Hindu supremacist organization, the RashtriyaSawayamsewakSangh (RSS), of which Modi is a part. 

Recently, Gabbard had tried to rationalise the repression of Muslims in Kashmir. A senior RSS leader attended her wedding a few years ago, and brought with him a personal message from Modi, with one Indian diplomat being present.

If the Indian government can give protocol and respect to such a divisive political figure in US, why is Singh being ostracised? Singh, too, is of Indian origin, and is an elected official who could be a future leader of Canada. He has every right to see things differently. If Gabbard can be pardoned for being supportive of an ideology that is blatantly racist, why not forgive Singh, who has only been asking for justice?

Consider some of these contrasting headlines from the Indian press, used for the two leaders, to understand this hypocrisy:
Jagmeet Singh’s rise in Canadian politics could be of concern in India. Jagmeet Singh faces criticism for pushing Canada’s parliament to give ‘genocide’ tag to 1984 riots etc.


Tulsi Gabbard could be the first Hindu to run for US presidency in 2020; TulsiGabbard, 1st Hindu-American to run for US president. 
Like it or not, but this prejudice has to do a lot with the fact that Singh belongs to a merely two percent minority community of India, whereas Gabbard is the poster girl of the Hindu Right. This showcases how India remains a majoritarian Hindu state under the garb of secularism and democracy. It’s time to defeat the nefarious designs of the RSS and its followers in Canada on the election day, by giving Singh the support he deserves. This is not to suggest that one should support him blindly, but at least be considerate about the inconvenient truth of him being a marked man. It remains important to recognize that he is a victim of foreign interference because of his identity and political beliefs.

Related Articles:

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  2. Tulsi Gabbard and Her Hindutva Connection
  3. US Congressman Ro Khanna rejects Hindutva, speaks for Equal Rights of all Indians




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