• G-23 criticises party’s alliance with ISF in West Begal
• W.B. PCC chief asks Azad, Anand Sharma not to praise PM
New Delhi: Is the Congress party on the path of a suicide, at least in the case of West Bengal? The row between the West Bengal PCC President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and former Union Minister Anand Sharma, member of the 23 member group (G-23) of dissenters in the Congress is sure to harm the party and help the BJP in West Bengal. Ghulam Nabi Azad, another disguised member of the group of G-23, praised the prime minister to the sky the other day. The G-23 is left with no option except derailing the Congress cart.
The timing is unfortunately important. The election schedule has been announced for five States. The fact that the Congress party in West Bengal chose to enter into alliance with Indian Secular Front (ISF) led by Abbas Siddiqui, a Muslim cleric known for his controversial comments on religious issues, without any debate by the party’s working committee is a point of contention. The G-23 cannot keep quiet saying that the party should not be criticized during the election time. The CPM says the ISF is not communal. It was largely the CPM’s decision to have ISF in the Front dictated by local factors.
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Muslims are in large numbers in West Bengal. The majority are generally with Mamatha Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC). Those who felf alientated from the government might vote for the Left-Congress-ISF alliance. Assaduddin Owaise of AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul- Muslimeen) is going to field his candidates in West Bengal either to win some seats or to divide the Muslim vote. The Congress in West Bengal is not in a position to dictate terms to its allies. It was the CPM which decided to have ISF in the alliance. Congress had to decide whether to be in the alliance or go it alone. If it goes along, it’s candidate cannot keep deposits in most of the constituencies.
‘To be or not to be’ is the question before Congress
By agreeing to be in the alliance with the ISF, the Congress has given a handle to the BJP to attack the secular credentials of the party. The BJP has already criticized Chowdhury for sharing platform with ISF leaders undermining the secular values. Anand Sharma’s criticism is something that can be accepted as reasonable. But Azad’s praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this juncture was unacceptable to the Congress party in general. Why should a person who had seen everything as a Congress leader go out of his way to praise the prime minister who is attacking the Congress party incessantly? Azad’s praise of the PM amounts undermining the Congress party, the tree that nurtured the leaders like him, as Chowdhury had put it.
Ananda Sharma said in a tweet, “Congress’s alliance with the ISF and similar parties goes against its core ideology, and the secularism advocated by Gandhi and Nehru which is the soul of the Congress. These issues should have been discussed by the Congress Working Committee (CWC).” “In the fight against communal-ism, the Congress cannot be selective . We must fight against communalism in all forms,” said Sharma taking exception to Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sharing platform with the ISF leaders.
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As an answer to Sharma’s criticism, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury posted on Tuesday a series of tweets under the heading “Know Your Facts, Anad Sharma.” Chowdhury said he would urge a group of distinguished Congressmen (meaning G-23) to rise above always seeking personal comfort spots and stop praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “They owe a duty to strengthen the Party and not undermine the tree that nurtured them,” Chowdhury said in a tweet.
Is the Congress facing another split? Indira Gandhi had done it twice in 1969 and 1989. Is it the time again for the good old party to get divided on lines of Nehru-Gandhi family and the rest? It appears to be the case since the G-23 who gave a call to have full-time and visible leadership is not likely to give up and Sonia Gandhi is not in a mood to call them and settle the issues. The members of the G-23 are of the opinion that they have nothing to lose as the party is not in a fighting mode at the present and the confusion regarding the party’s leadership continues to confound. May be the party’s high command would strike at the G-23 before the next meeting of the AICC. Can Rahul Gandhi do what Indira Gandhi did more than forty years ago?