By Rahil Nora Chopra
After Congress lost poorly in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, the party is undergoing intense internal debate on the future of its core ideological plank of secularism, but without alienating the majority community, or appearing to be overtly pro-minority. While senior Congress leaders repeatedly maintain that the party cannot afford to forsake its secular plank, they also admit that the BJP and RSS campaign to brand their party as being enemies of the majority community is a matter of deep concern. The party has to necessarily rework its strategy to counter this campaign for 2024 Lok Sabha polls. On the other hand, there is a view that the party should take up its secular plank in the public domain with the slogan of “Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai, Aapas Mein Sab Bhai Bhai”. Mostly, leaders want the senior leadership to spell out the party position clearly, so that the party does not fall between two stools. On the recent controversy over religious conversions in Kashmir, senior Congress leaders think that they should have called the BJP’s bluff on a having a debate on an anti-conversion law and that the ruling BJP should call all-party meeting to elicit everybody’s views.
BIGGER ROLE FOR SIDHU, BUT NO MAJOR CHANGE IN PUNJAB CONGRESS
After the panel set up by the Congress on Punjab submitted its report on the factionalism in its state unit, Navjot Singh Sidhu met Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday. Sources say Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been at loggerheads with Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, has agreed to the formula suggested by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Sidhu could soon be given major responsibilities by the national leadership of the Congress party. According to sources, the party will now adjust Navjot Singh Sidhu in AICC and also give him a Rajya Sabha seat. However, the central leadership has ruled out a change in state leadership, given that elections are only months away. The committee has emphasised the need for unity.
BIHAR CONGRESS IS LOOKING FOR A NEW STATE UNIT CHIEF
The Congress is struggling in Bihar, where it ruled till the 1980s. The 2020 assembly poll results are enough proof of this, with the Congress winning just 19 of the 70 seats it contested and killing the chances of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). With Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) state president Madan Mohan Jhaset to complete three years in office this September, the party has started looking for its new state chief. On Tuesday, former Bihar Congress president Anil Sharma had tweeted that a woman should be made working president of BPCC and candidates belonging to backward, extremely backward and scheduled caste should be given preference in selecting working presidents. “A Muslim and a forward caste candidate should also be there in the team,” he tweeted. AICC in-charge for state Bhakta Charan Das took the feedback regarding probable candidates from party functionaries, legislators and senior leaders during his recent visit to Patna. Das seemed to be in favour of making party’s Kutumba MLA Rajesh Ram the BPCC president. Other names such as Nagendra Paswan Vakil is also in the race for the post of state president in Bihar.
PILOT-GEHLOT RIVALRY HEATS UP AGAIN OVER CABINET EXPANSION
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, known for his shrewd brand of politics, continues to play hardball, which has put cabinet expansion and political appointments in the state in limbo for the time being. This has led to resentment in the Sachin Pilot camp. The supporters of senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot are camping in Delhi to meet the party leadership. Party candidate from Shahpura assembly candidate, Manish Yadav, said, “We will continue to camp in Delhi till we meet leaders and convey our issues.” Sachin Pilot and chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s factions have been sparring against each other for a fortnight over state cabinet expansion and political appointments.
IT’S SIDDARAMAIAH VERSUS DK SHIVAKUMAR IN KARNATAKA CONGRESS
In Karnataka Congress, infighting is at its peak with the assembly elections merely a year away. Discussions on who will lead the party and its government if the Congress manages to win are already heating up the political temperature. Debate was triggered by the loyalists of PC Siddaramaiah, who want their leader to head the next government. But supporters of state Congress president DK Shivakumar didn’t take it lightly. The two groups have since been issuing statements about why the Congress high command should pick their respective leaders as the next chief minister. This made the former chief minister G Parameshwar has claimed that even his name was doing the rounds too. (IPA)