By Nitya Chakraborty
In the renowned writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel “Kapalkundala”, there is a famous dialogue “Pathik, tumi ki path haraiacho” (Traveller have you lost your way)., Scanning the observations of the Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh in the course of the Bharat Jodo Yatra on its ninth day in Kerala, it seems that the dialogue of Kapalkundala is apt for the Congress Party which is currently on to a 3500 km Yatra through 12 states and two union territories in 150 days led by the indomitable 52 year young Rahul Gandhi.
Since Ramesh is the official spokesman of the Congress Party, it is apparent that whatever he said about opposition parties on Thursday had the clearance of Rahul Gandhi. If that was so, it was nothing but a self goal of the Congress Party which instead of uniting the people against the divisive activities and hate mongering of the Sangh Parivar and the BJP, is directing its fire against the opposition parties which it is seeking as its allies in the fight against the BJP.
Ramesh launched a scathing attack on the Trinamool Congress, CPI(M)and the AAP saying that the Congress was ready to work towards opposition unity if there was a need for it but the party could not have such a deal with parties intent on weakening the Congress. Only a few days ago, in the beginning of the Yatra, Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress along with the other opposition parties will take on BJP. That was a welcome departure from his earlier statement from the Udaipur Chintan Shivir few weeks ago that the Congress is the only party capable to fight the BJP.
Out of the total of 150 days of proposed Yatra, only nine days have passed, September 16th is the tenth day. Yatra has got good response and this must have gone to the head of the Congress leaders. Ramesh’s observations on the three opposition parties’ role in the decline of the Congress is totally untrue. The remarks are so far away from the ground reality that the opposition leaders are wondering how the Congress could damage the efforts of building all out unity against the BJP at this crucial moment.
First, the CPI(M), Ramesh said that the CPI(M)and the BJP are the two sides of the same coin in Kerala. This is preposterous. The Congress has every right to fight the CPI(M) in Kerala as they are traditional rivals. But in the course of a Yatra whose aim is to unite the secular forces against BJP, making such insane remarks is unpardonable from opposition perspective. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala has been fighting the RSS and the BJP for long in. The Congress is also certainly fighting the BJP in its own way. The electoral compulsion of gaining most seats from Kerala in the coming Lok Sabha polls should not lead to such biased remarks from a seasoned political leader like Ramesh.
Now about Trinamool Congress. Ramesh said Mamata Banerjee was singularly responsible for the rise of BJP in West Bengal. Ramesh is a person with impeccable academic credentials. His friends know how the facts are always at his fingertips. He has demeaned his stature by making such remarks. Trinamool came to power in 2011 by trouncing the CPI(M) led Left Front in assembly elections. BJP was no threat at that time. The Congress and the Left Font represented the main opposition till 2016 assembly polls. The Congress decline started from 2016 as also the Left’s downhill journey. The space vacated by the Congress and the Left was taken over by the burgeoning BJP which got emboldened after Narendra Modi and the BJP came to power in 2014.
In 2021 assembly elections, the Congress did not get a single seat and this was followed by its abysmal performance in the bye-elections and civic polls. The Congress has now two percent of the voting share in Bengal. In the coming Lok Sabha polls, the Congress may very well lose its present two seats. Who is responsible for this Congress decline? It is the Congress Party in the state itself along with the party high command. The Congress had no guts to fight the BJP. Only Trinamool had that organisational power to take on BJP in Bengal and it showed that in the 2021 assembly elections as also later. If the Congress supporters at the block level deserted the party and joined Trinamool, the reason is the organisational collapse and not ‘ Trinamool’s intent to weaken the party”.
Let us talk about AAP now. AAP that way is not like the other trusted anti-BJP parties – the Left and the TMC. AAP, after winning Delhi has trounced the Congress in Punjab and taken over the state as a ruling party. AAP has every right to expand its base and if it is at the expense of the Congress, it is quite ethical. Now the Congress is afraid that AAP will cut into Congress votes in Gujarat. But the ground reports say that AAP will cut both Congress and BJP votes in the state. Congress should put its organisation in proper shape in Gujarat rather than blaming AAP for weakening the Congress.
In the Gujarat campaign, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal is saying that “you may elect a Congressman as legislator but you will soon find him in BJP.” Within few hours of his remark, 8 out of 11 Congress MLAs left the Party and joined the BJP in Goa. Who is responsible for this decline of the Congress strength? Certainly not AAP. In last Goa assembly polls, two AAP MLAs were elected. They are still with the party. These AAP legislators were also under pressure from the BJP, but they did not defect; the eight Congress MLAs did. Congress leaders should do some real introspection about the party’s organisational shape and should not be in a hurry to blame others.
Bharat Jodo Yatra has another 140 days to continue. The Congress cavalcade will travel through ten more states. People including those from the opposition are wishing the Yatra all success so that the message of keeping the Constitutional ethos of the country intact reaches wider sections of the countrymen to arouse them against the divisive forces represented by the BJP and the Narendra Modi Government. Congress leadership has to ensure no such comments divisive to the opposition unity are aired again during the Yatra. The Congress can be an integral part of the anti-BJP opposition front when it respects the others. This should be crystal clear to the party spokespersons during this long haul. (IPA Service)