Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Chintan Shivir miffs allies

17 May, 2022 | Pragati Singh

In his address at Congress' "Chintan Shivir" (brainstorming camp) in Udaipur, Jaipur, Gandhi had claimed that regional parties cannot fight the BJP-RSS as they lack ideology. The Congress can fight...

Regional parties have strongly objected to Rahul Gandhi’s recent statements at the Congress’ Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, in which he stated that state-level parties lack philosophy and hence cannot successfully oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In his address at Congress’ “Chintan Shivir” (brainstorming camp) in Udaipur, Jaipur, Gandhi had claimed that regional parties cannot fight the BJP-RSS as they lack ideology. The Congress can fight it, he said.

Addressing Congress leaders, Gandhi said, “BJP will talk about Congress, will talk about Congress leaders, will talk about Congress workers, but will not talk about regional parties, because they know, that regional parties have their place, but they cannot defeat BJP. Because they don’t have an ideology.”

The Rashtriya Janata Dal encouraged Rahul Gandhi to look at the recent election experience of regional parties that had fought the BJP hard. Regional parties, according to RJD spokesman Manoj Kumar Jha, are strong in a majority of Lok Sabha seats in the struggle against the BJP, and the Congress should settle for being “co-travellers” and allowing them to be in the “driving seat” in over 320 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies.

Jha went on to say that the RJD was the target of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attacks during the elections because it was at the centre of the electoral and ideological battle against the BJP.

In Jharkhand, Congress is part of a coalition government with the JMM. Party spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said: “The fact remains that it is these regional parties on which the Congress is dependent for a fight or a win, be it the JMM in Jharkhand or the RJD in Bihar.”

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy requested Gandhi to expand on ideological commitment to regional parties, claiming that the Congress is afraid of regional parties and that the national party has no presence in most regions of the country.

“Is joining hands (with BJP) for the immoral operation ‘Lotus’ through the back door, after coming to our (JD-S) door with an alliance proposal and forming a coalition government with us, an ideological commitment? Is destroying alliance partners ideology-based politics?” he further questioned the Congress.

Kumaraswamy also added, “It has no presence in most of the States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. Congress is in its last days in Karnataka. It will be better if Rahul Gandhi understands that.”

Another ally of Congress, CPM, has said that the national party is itself facing a crisis of ideology as it was flirting with “soft Hindutva”. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, said, reports The Indian Express, “Compared to the past, the Congress today has been considerably weakened. And many in the BJP and the RSS do not see the Congress as a major threat. Because, any of its leaders, at any point of time, can leave the party to join the BJP.”

Referring to West Bengal Assembly elections, Trinamool Congress leader Sushmita Dev said that “bereft of a narrative, face and organisation”, it was the Congress that was handing over seats to the BJP on a platter, in places of West Bengal where the two parties were in a direct fight.

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah, another former Congress ally, said: “Generalisations are always a mistake and to paint all regional parties with the same brush is a disservice to regional parties. I can’t speak for others but we are definitely not devoid of ideology.”

He even pointed out, “What does that say about Congress ideology? All the way from the Shiv Sena to the PDP to NC, AIADMK, DMK, and at one time with Nitish Kumar’s party as well… At a time when the Congress needs regional parties, it should not attack them. It should focus on attacking the BJP.”