What is Rahul’s priority?
Barely days away for the first round of polling to commence for the general elections, it is still unclear what is the Congress priority—defeating Narendra Modi and leading the fight against fascism or preparing to emerge as the single largest party to stake claim to the Prime Ministership in the 17th Lok Sabha.
Rahul Gandhi’s latest decision to contest simultaneously from two seats, his traditional UP seat of Amethi and now Wayanad on the border of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has confounded the confusion over the Congress priority further. While on the one hand it indicates Rahul’s desire to emerge as a PM candidate in the post-election scenario, it has simultaneously raised a question mark about the Congress party’s commitment and sincerity to a larger anti Modi alliance and forming a Government at the Centre on firm ideological ground against the forces of fascism, communalism and the rule of goondas and thugs in saffron garb.
Every political party has a right and is obliged to spread its wings and strengthen its organisation and mass base. But there is time for everything. Can we afford to stand on the sideline and watch Rahul Gandhi attempt to strengthen and spread the Congress party at this critical juncture when the future of India to survive as a modern secular state is under threat?
There is a Damocles sword hanging over the heads of all of us, fighting in our own way the rise of fascism post Modi era and we are all anxious to see the back of Modi as soon as possible. But if each political party is merely busy out scoring each other in the hope of being able to share a bigger slice of cake in the next Government, we can be assured of getting Modi back and prepare ourselves for the guillotine next.
The Left might have been humbled in Bengal and Tripura undoubtedly. But in Kerala it is the lone force strong enough to successfully fight the forces of fascism and the communal virus being spread by the RSS riding piggy back on Modi’s shoulders. The Congress party as the Sabrimala episode demonstrated, is in fact running with the BJP, challenging the Supreme Court verdict which struck down the discrimination on gender grounds. And if the Left is trying to implement the apex court order, why should a secular party be opposing it and aligning with the forces of obscurantism. But the Congress position on Sabrimala akin to BJP’s, proves its insincerity to modern, secular ethos. The Left has therefore justifiably questioned Rahul and Congress priorities.
Also his decision to seek election from another seat has rightly given a handle to the BJP and his electoral adversary Smriti Irani that he fears losing in the face of a strident challenge and is therefore running away from a contest. After all Smriti Irani ran a fully charged campaign in 2014 and in these five years her stature has grown too. So her candidature cannot be taken lightly.
Besides if Rahul and the Congress party had announced early enough that to send a message to the southern support base of the Congress party Rahul may contest from somewhere in the South as well, he wouldn’t be exposed to this criticism. But mid-stream if Rahul and his Congress seek to change the course, Irani, Modi, Yogi are justified in deriving political mileage from this.
At a time when a person with criminal past heading the UP government is openly challenging the secular forces all around the state, was it not incumbent upon Rahul and even the new entrant Priyanka to focus on Western UP and challenge that saffron clad criminal who has had the gumption to withdraw cases against himself, who takes along the killers of Akhlaq in Dadri makes them sit in the front row displaying them to the voters while seeking vote for his candidate General (retired) V K Singh, thus proudly reiterating the communal nature of his campaign, rather than go and attempt to destroy whatever little is left of the Left in this country at a time, when the Left is the only force raising its voice stridently and consistently against fascism and communalism in these last five years.
Rahul has left those opposing Modi and his vituperative communal politics hopless and despondent.
By Faraz Ahmad