Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2023 > Congress leaders yet to overcome the big brother syndrome | Arun (...)

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 9 - 10, February 25 & March 4, 2023

Congress leaders yet to overcome the big brother syndrome | Arun Srivastava

Saturday 25 February 2023


by Arun Srivastava

Notwithstanding lurid claims of the chief of the communication cell of the Congress, Jairam Ramesh “the party knows its role for forging an alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to take on the BJP and oust it from power”, his terse reciprocation to Nitish Kumar’s offer sends a message which is laden with different contour and connotation.

Nitish Kumar’s proposition did not bear the impression that he was resorting to one-upmanship. His was purely a political proposal to the Congress that it should take a call at the earliest on forging an alliance of opposition parties to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Instead of supplementing his gesture through a political reply, Ramesh retorted; “Nobody needs to give a certificate to Congress that it has to take a lead in opposition unity, as we know that any opposition platform without Congress will be unsuccessful. Without Congress, a strong opposition unity is impossible.”

If the Congress leaders have been really serious in their fight against the BJP, the political situation would not have declined to such an extent wherein the democratic institutions and their functioning have been facing an existential crisis. After the party met with waterloo in 2019 Lok Sabha election, Rahul Gandhi, who was then the president, had put in his papers with a sneer that he did not receive the needed support from other leaders. His pain obviously manifested that even the leaders of national stature did not stand behind him. If the Congress, naturally the leaders, was fighting against the BJP, what conjured Rahul to make such disconsolate observation?

Through his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi strived to put the counter narrative to the RSS and BJP narrative of politics of hate and divisiveness, in public domain, but for most of the Congress leaders, even those from the opposition parties, it appeared to be an exercise for electoral gains. Obviously in this scenario Nitish urging for Congress’s green signal to start corralling opposition parties in a camp should not have been derided. Instead the Congress leaders tersely said it needs no reminding about its lead role in forging the anti-BJP unity.

The worst aspect was, coinciding with the terse comment, some Congress leaders counselled “twofaced parties” which proclaim commitment to the opposition, but play footsie with BJP, to maintain restrain. It is open secret that Nitish has been an ally of BJP led NDA. Last year in August he parted company. Though some leaders correlate the phrase twofaced parties with TMC of Mamata Banerjee, the BJP leaders have been using the phrase to humiliate Nitish. They say “ we have been saying that he is unreliable guy and this has been even endorsed by the Congress”. As if reiterating the phrase twofaced parties was not enough, the leaders indicated that a united national front against the BJP appeared impossible as some “double-faced” parties in the Opposition camp could not be trusted in the critical Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

Nitish’s desire has been unpalatable for the Congress leaders as they perceived it underlining the failure of the party and its leaders not alive to its responsibility of creating partnership to take on the Modi-led BJP in 2024. True enough the Congress leaders should have welcomed Nitish’s statement as it made explicit that opposition leaders have accepted the criticality of Congress in the opposition camp and by virtue of this they would concede the leadership of the united opposition to Rahul, which till recently a matter of wide speculation in the national politics.

Stung by the realisation that mere terse speaking was not enough Ramesh outlined three broader strategies; One, no credible alternative is possible without the Congress. Two, the Congress doesn’t need a certificate from anybody on its seriousness about fighting the BJP. Three, Congress’s immediate priority is the crucial Assembly elections coming up in 2023.

Real politick has its own compulsions and preferences and these can only be dictated by the emerging political obligations. Instead of tossing so much of jibes they would have reiterated what they later told the media; “plenary session of the party to be held in Chhattisgarh next week will discuss the policy and its nitty gritties regarding the creation of a united bloc”. That would not have dampened the spirit of the opposition camp.

What has really been interesting to watch is the formal political initiative has been mooted by the Commuist Party of India (Larxist-Leninist) party, a party which had initiated the armed struggle in sixties from Naxalibari-Phansidewa in Bengal. This simply underlines the potent threat from the rightist forces. Nitish had made this observation while addressing the ’Save Constitution, Save Democracy, Save India’ convention organised as part of the 11th CPIML Congress, in Patna.

Nitish had urged Congress on Saturday to seize the moment and act quickly to unite the opposition. Of course he had also cautioned the Congress; “I want you (Congress) to take a quick decision. If they take my suggestion and fight together, they (BJP) will go below 100 seats, but if they don’t take my suggestion, you know what will happen. Its Bharat Jodo yatra went very well. But the Grand Old Party must think beyond the yatra.”

Nevertheless Nitish received a major boost yesterday with Congress leader Salman Kurshid assuring him that he would take the message to the party high command and, if required, advocate for it. Khurshid who was also present at the CPI(ML) convention said, “You raised many points, some openly and some discreetly. As far as my understanding goes, the Congress is thinking likewise.” Khurshid said that his party also shares similar intent; “the situation is akin to lovers taking their time to decide who should say I love you happens that sometimes an inexperienced lover is uninhibited enough to make the first move." He also suggested to pursue the “Bihar model” against the BJP’s “hate model”.

While the Congress has entered into polemics with Nitish, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechri and RJD chief Lalu Yadav also used their might to give a major push to unity efforts. Though it was in the form of “courtesy call” Yechury called on Lalu Yadav to explore the formation of the united forum. The CPM which earlier advocated for the alternative front minus BJP and Congress, has reconciled to the ides of working with Congress.

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.