New Delhi: The Congress, which suffered a virtual revolt over its attack on the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Article 370, is now threatened with fresh cracks within over its role as the biggest opposition party.
In just over a day, three senior leaders of the party have said that the Modi government has also taken some good initiatives that need to be acknowledged. Others in the Congress have not taken kindly to the view, saying the party’s criticism of the Modi government had always been driven by fair grounds.
It all started at a book launch Thursday, where Congress Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance was “not a complete negative story”.
“If you criticise him all the time, you are not going to be able to confront him,” he added.
Ramesh was backed by fellow Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who tweeted Friday that he had always said “demonising Modi (is) wrong”.
Always said demonising #Modi wrong. No only is he #PM of nation, a one way opposition actually helps him. Acts are always good, bad & indifferent—they must be judged issue wise and nt person wise. Certainly, #ujjawala scheme is only one amongst other good deeds. #Jairamramesh
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) August 23, 2019
Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor pitched in as well, saying he had courted criticism for six years for making the same point.
“As you know, I have argued for six years now that Narendra Modi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs,” he said
. As you know, I have argued for six years now that @narendramodi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs. I welcome others in Oppn coming around to a view for which i was excoriated at the time!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 23, 2019
Hitting back at the three leaders, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said demonising the prime minister had never been the party’s strategy anyway.
“The Congress never criticises for the sake of criticising,” Jakhar told ThePrint. “Rahul Gandhi made it very clear that we are against the Modi government’s policies, not him personally.”
Jakhar said the party had only ever taken stands in the interest of the nation. “If the government is doing something wrong, why won’t we criticise them fairly and squarely? I don’t understand what they were referring to,” he said.
Also read: How one picture tells the story of an ageing Congress party
Congress splinters again
Jakhar isn’t the only one in the Congress who feels so. Two other senior party leaders told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity that they had failed to understand the leaders’ stance as well.
“Gyaan dena hai toh party mein do na (if you want to impart knowledge, do it within the party),” one of the leaders said. “Why speak through the media when you have a direct channel to the top, whether it’s Sonia or Rahul or Priyanka (Gandhi)?”
The leader added that it was really Modi who had made the rivalry personal by attacking the Gandhis.
“All I can think of is that they may want a seat in the Congress Working Committee,” the leader said. Tharoor, Singhvi and Ramesh are not a part of the CWC — the Congress’ top decision-making body.
“The timing of his (Ramesh’s) comment is especially problematic,” said a second senior leader. “The Gandhi family will not forget that he said it on the day of Rajiv Gandhi’s event (to mark his 75th birth anniversary),” the leader added.
According to the second leader, there was no clear motivation for such a statement to be made.
“Most people don’t even know where Jairam Ramesh comes from,” the leader added. “I don’t know if it was greed that made him say this.”
The spat among Congress leaders comes just days after the party’s younger members questioned senior leaders’ criticism of the Article 370 move.
Also read: Does Bhupinder Hooda’s rebellion show Congress party’s disintegration has truly begun?
I am surprised by these Congress men. I see a pattern. We can never believe these guys.
The Congress, along with other opposition parties, should focus on the economy. Today’s press conference is the first occasion in the last five years when the government acknowledges it has a case to answer. Be searingly honest, no false claims, no fake news, no cooking stuff up. A diligent compilation of facts, data, information from every nook and corner of the country. Placed before the people through every medium that is available. Tweeting will not suffice. If there is a place in politics for popular mobilisation, do it. Recall that moving saga of Adivasi farmers trekking to Bombay with torn and bleeding feet.
”“As you know, I have argued for six years now that Narendra Modi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs,” he said (Shashi Tharoor).
Shekhar Gupta has already modified his cut the clutter in favour of Modi as he knows people of India are solidly behind Modi.
Even good old Shekhar Gupta has accepted that Modi is a formidable personality and there is no one in Congress to match him. Some Congress leaders (intelligent ones) have realised Modi will be PM again in 2024, and hence it is better to accept the facts.
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