The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Uttar Pradesh Police, in the early hours of Wednesday, March 8, managed to gun down a terrorist named Mohammed Saiful alias Saifulla at a residence in Thakurganj, Lucknow. It has since emerged that Saiful belonged to the Khorasan module of the Islamic State group — also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
However, what is irking people now is the Congress claiming that the success of the operation has shown that the Samajwadi Party — which is currently ruling UP — is competent in its governance. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has been quoted by news agencies as saying that "the manner in which the UP police has fought more than adequately proves the elasticity and competence of the Samajwadi Party government as also UP police in tackling crime and terrorism."
This is in reply to constant barbs by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at various election rallies in the state in the run-up to the UP Assembly elections about the law and order situation in the state. Here are five ways the Congress' ploy can backfire:
1. Backlash from the police: The police can easily see this as a ploy by the Congress, which has entered into an electoral alliance with the SP, as an effort to usurp credit for the operation. Political parties are looking for gains in the ongoing polls. And if a single police officer comes out against the SP, it could be a body-blow to the party. However, the effect might be limited, because the seventh phase of elections in UP is already under way.
2. Undermining intelligence establishment: The statement can also be treated by the intelligence establishment in UP as well as at the centre as an affront to its efforts. The SP has many skeletons in its closet. The wishful thinking here is that the affront can prompt the intel agencies to dig them up and act on them.
3. How was an ISIS terrorist holed up in UP capital? This is the big question that will be raised. Was there some collusion that allowed an ISIS terrorist to take up residence in the capital city of UP and no less? Another question the BJP and other political rivals of the SP and the Congress will love to ask is: Was the state government sleeping all this while?
4. Gayatri Prajapati still missing: Something will definitely be amiss if Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, the rape-accused SP MLA who is on the run right now, is not dragged into the issue. After all, if governance and law and order are being talked about, how can the issue of the absconding political leader who contested the UP Assembly elections be kept aside?
5. EC can take notice: This is a long shot, but the Election Commission can still take notice of this statement by the Congress, and ask the party to explain how this was not a violation of the Model Code of Conduct that is in place due to the ongoing elections in UP.