Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, talking to the Iranian foreign minister Javed Sharif, characterised the Saudi political and religious ideology as a “threat to the world.” Who in India would disagree with the Syrian assessment? The problem is that while the BJP has little understanding of the Islamic world, their prime ministerial candidate perhaps has even less so.
The Malayalee and Muslim lobbies, with votes and remittances ensured by pleasing the expatriates in the Gulf, drive the Congress obsession with the GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. All recent accounts from and about Pakistan surmise that Sunni Barelvis/Sufis are beleaguered by the growth and aggression of the Deobandis and Ahle Hadith (Salafis/Wahhabis). Shias in Pakistan and other Saudi-dominatd countries are being targeted to homogenise the belief around the regressive Saudi variant of desert-based puritanism.
That Mulayam Singh Yadav or Behen Mayawati or Didi Mamata etc will understand these dilemmas is too much to seek as their votebanks will drive their perception, not potential challenges to India. Whether the AAP can quickly weave complex economic and strategic themes into their discourse for the Lok Sabha elections remains to be seen.
The writer is a former secretary in the external affairs ministry. He tweets at @ambkcsingh
Source: Adapted from Deccan Chroncile, 17 January 2014