‘Why is Britain Dabbling in India’s Internal Matters?’: Congress’s Anil Antony Questions BBC Documentary

Even as his party has shown support to the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader AK Antony’s son, Anil, through a tweet, took a stand to the contrary, calling it a “dangerous precedence, which will undermine our sovereignty”.

Speaking to News18, Anil said that while he had differences with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and his views on the 2002 Gujarat riots were not different from his party, “top leaders, especially those with experience in government, will say the same thing” as him on the documentary. “I did feel that a lot of conversations that are happening at the moment should not make us repeat history from the colonial period.”

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Anil K Antony, who handles the digital communications for Congress and its Kerala state unit, tweeted, “Despite large differences with BJP, I think those in India placing views of BBC, a UK-state sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices, and of Jack Straw, the brain behind the Iraq war, over Indian institutions, is setting a dangerous precedence, will undermine our sovereignty.”

The two-part series by BBC, ‘India: The Modi Question’, documents certain aspects related to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was the chief minister of the state. The Centre has been blocking links related to it. News18 spoke to him at length about his party and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

‘BBC HAS DUBIOUS OBJECTIVES, CAN’T SUPPORT THOSE DIVIDING US’

When asked if the documentary should have been made in the first place, considering the closure from the Supreme Court, Anil said, “We are a democratic and free country and we take pride in the fact. We are the world’s largest democracy and free speech is sanctimonious for democracy to function. We can have our differences, but unless there are instances where it breeds hatred, we should be allowed to air our opinions.”

…There are many court verdicts that even I am not happy about, but that shouldn’t mean we dilute the sanctity of our institutions and I felt over the past few days that’s what’s happening in the country. I am sure this is what the vast majority of the Congress feels, including the leadership. They [BBC] are an entity with dubious objectives. Just because we don’t like a person doesn’t mean we should let people from outside use our differences to compromise our core national interests…to once again subjugate us.

“As far as the Gujarat riots are concerned, they took place when I was a kid. It was 20 years ago. It was one of the dark chapters of our history but at the same time I am not willing to indulge in it. We do have a Supreme Court, institutions…There are many court verdicts that even I am not happy about, but that shouldn’t mean we dilute the sanctity of our institutions and I felt over the past few days that’s what’s happening in the country. I am sure this is what the vast majority of the Congress feels, including the leadership. They [BBC] are an entity with dubious objectives. We could have differences, but those shouldn’t be used as tools by people with dubious intent from outside the country to once again subjugate us. Just because we don’t like a person doesn’t mean we should let people from outside use our differences to compromise our core national interests.”

ON STANCE OF RAHUL GANDHI, CONGRESS

Anil’s views don’t match those of the Congress and leader Rahul Gandhi, who said “truth has a nasty way of coming out”. For the Congress, the 2002 riots are a tactical weapon it continues to use against the BJP. Is it wrong?

Anil replied: “Rahul Gandhi is our leader and I am sure he has the right reasons for saying what he has. I am not questioning his views. At the same time, the Gujarat riots happened many years ago…Also, the issue is being raised by those with a dubious past, for example, Jack Straw…When such people are involved with a project, we as a country must be concerned as to why the BBC is coming out with a documentary now. We should look at it with caution…”

Rahul Gandhi is our leader and I am sure he has the right reasons for saying what he has. I am not questioning his views. At the same time, the Gujarat riots happened many years ago…We have overtaken Britain as the fifth largest economy and we have a certain trajectory. At this moment, I find it disappointing to see our old colonial rulers still trying to dabble in this country’s internal matters, which I think no responsible political outfit should be encouraging in any manner.

Elaborating on it, he said: “First of all, India is a country that has two hostile neighbours. Britain is also one country which has had a chequered history with us. We had 200-plus years of colonial rule. We have overtaken Britain as the fifth largest economy and we have a certain trajectory. At this moment, I find it disappointing to see our old colonial rulers still trying to dabble in this country’s internal matters, which I think no responsible political outfit should be encouraging in any manner.”

WORRIED ABOUT CONSEQUENCES?

Asked if he was worried about how the party would take his statement, Anil said, “I was speaking my mind, what my conscience said. I work for a political party and all parties exist for one reason – the country’s interest. Any politician should stand for the sovereignty and integrity of our country above anything else. We can’t compromise it. The East India Company exploited these differences many years ago… 75 years since, especially in the year we surpassed Britain as the fifth largest economy in the world, we should not forget the lessons of the past. We should not allow anyone to exploit our weaknesses. My tweet was based on my firm beliefs.”

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