New Delhi: Former Communist Party of India (CPI) member and student leader Kanhaiya Kumar Tuesday joined the Congress party, expressing the need to “save” it. Coinciding with with the occasion of Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, the induction was attended by party leader Rahul Gandhi at Delhi’s Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh Park.
Addressing the media at Congress’ headquarters along with independent MLA from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, Kumar said that many people often call the opposition in the country “weak”.
“What people don’t realise is that whenever the opposition has been weak in history, those in power adopt an authoritarian rule. So this isn’t just a concern for the opposition but for everyone.”
Pointing out that big ships need to be saved in order for smaller ships to survive, he said, “If the biggest and oldest party in the country is not saved, then that is an issue.”
He also said that the ideological war in the country can only be fought and led by the Congress party. “This is a historical responsibility I have on my shoulders which I cannot deny.”
When asked by reporters if he has come to the Congress as a “saviour”, Kumar said he wants to “save democracy.”
“It is the country’s democracy which is in danger,” he added.
“I would like to tell the youngsters listening to me, that now it is no longer the time to sit on the wall and think whether they should go right or left. This is a moment of urgency, and in a war you fight with the tools available to you.”
“Congress is that party which has taken forward the legacy of Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Ambedkar, Nehru, Ashfaqullah Khan, Bhagat Singh and Maulana Azad. This is the history of India, and the Congress is taking that history forward,” he further said, adding that of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, there is a direct contest between the BJP and Congress in about 200 of them.
Grateful to Left, never spoke against Congress: Kumar
On the question of leaving CPI, a political party Kumar has been associated with since his student leader days, he said he was “extremely grateful” to the party.
“It is where I was born. It is the party where I was trained to think and fight. I am very grateful for it.”
The leader then pointed out that even as a member of the CPI, he never spoke against the Congress in the Kerala polls where there was a direct contest between the Left and the Congress.
“I never spoke a word against Congress in Kerala. I only spoke against Congress in my JNU presidential speech. I know my history well. History cannot be twisted.”
Asked if he thinks the Left doesn’t have a future anymore, Kumar said a party’s future is beyond its individual members.
“Who is saying the Left’s future has been ruined? People come and people go. Organisation is always bigger than individual people.”
Kumar also thanked all those who stood by him when he was accused of sedition along with other JNU student leaders in 2016.
“I want to thank lakhs of people who weren’t affiliated with any party, but fought for me when there were accusations levelled against me. People’s friendships broke, couples divorced over this,” he said.
Can’t join Congress formally, but part of it ideologically: Mevani
Mevani, who was also present at the Congress headquarters, also expressed his allegiance to the Congress, but said he cannot join the party formally as he is presently a sitting independent MLA in the Gujarat assembly.
“I could not join the Congress formally due to technical reasons. I am an independent MLA. If I join a party, I may not continue as an MLA. I am part of the Congress ideologically, and I will fight the upcoming Gujarat polls from Congress symbol,” he said.
Mevani further said that he chose to be a part of the Congress as it is the one democratic party in the country.
“To save democracy and the idea of India, I have to be with a party that led the Independence struggle and threw the British out of the country. That is what Congress stands for,” he said.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)