By Sushil Kutty
Former Jawaharlal University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar would henceforth be Congress neta not CPI ‘comrade’. Ditto Jignesh Mevani, ‘independent’ MLA from Vadnagar, Gujarat. The two will grace Congress ranks. Rahul Gandhi himself was at the forefront to welcome the two into the grand old party. People consider them both “catch” of the day, month and year. The Congress couldn’t be more pleased.
How CPI leaders are taking this shift in allegiance is anybody’s guess. D. Raja, CPI General Secretary, was nowhere lacking or lagging when the “merciless state” was gunning for Kanhaiya Kumar during the ‘tukde-tukde’ days, when he was hauled to jail by the Modi Government for being “anti-national”. D. Raja and the CPI stood by him and in 2019 the CPI gave him a party ticket to contest the 2019 general elections.
Kanhaiya Kumar fought from Begusarai, his home district in Bihar, pitted against Union Minister Giriraj Singh. It was a tough nail-biting contest and, say CPI supporters, if it wasn’t because of elements of the RJD, who betrayed their own party’s decision, Kanhaiya Kumar would have won hands down. He lost but he won the hearts of the young. He had the full backing of the national CPI leadership, He was made a member of the national executive committee at a young age. The CPI nursed high expectations about him in respect of galvanizing the young as also the party organization in Bihar.
That way, Kanhaiya Kumar’s leaving the CPI and joining the Congress is certainly a big loss to the CPI, but CPI is an ideologically driven organization and it can absorb the exit, however influential the person might be. But taking into account the dwindling nature of CPI influence among the youth, the CPI leadership should have made all efforts to sort out his grievances, if any. However, the party sources say that KK never mentioned of any intention of leaving the Party and join the Congress.
Jignesh Mevani also has a winning way to him, both in winning elections, and in winning friends. The Congress, of course, was giving top billing to Kanhaiya Kumar. At least the Congress headquarters, 24 Akbar Road, was festooned with hoardings welcoming Kanhaiya Kumar on board, not one but a bunch of them standing side by side.
Jignesh Mevani also found mention, but the picture closer to Rahul Gandhi on the hoardings was that of the former JNSU President, not of Jignesh Mevani. Maybe because JNU is in the same city Delhi and Vadnagar, Mevani’s constituency, in faraway Gujarat. In fact, CPI leaders got news of Kanhaiya Kumar jumping ship from Jignesh Mevani.
Mevani addressed a presser and revealed that he and Kanhaiya Kumar would join the Congress on September 28. Informed of this, D Raja replied, “Let us see.” They say Kanhaiya Kumar was “unhappy” because he wasn’t given a bigger role in the CPI. Some even say that Kanhaiya Kumar wanted to be “state party chief” but those are the matters decided by party leadership, not by the claimant.
Rahul Gandhi is in the process of building a “young leadership” that will stand behind him through thick and thin. Kanhaiya Kumar shot to limelight in 2016 when he was arrested and charged with sedition. At that time, Rahul Gandhi had visited JNU to sit in solidarity with the students. And Kanhaiya Kumar might have drawn Rahul’s attention since then
For the Congress, Kanhaiya Kumar is a “revolutionary youth leader” who will strengthen the Congress at a time when the Congress party has been falling behind other political parties in terms of electoral victories. Kanhaiya Kumar is a charismatic young leader and is extremely popular among the youth. He‘s also a fiery orator.
The induction of Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani is a sign of Rahul Gandhi leaving his stamp on rejuvenating the Congress Party. Both KK and Jignesh Mevani are great fighters and they are against the BJP-RSS combination. If both of them give some additional ammo to the Congress and opposition’s fight against the BJP, that will be a big contribution to the opposition including the CPI. KK if he still carrying the CPI ideology with him, can create enough space in the Congress Party, if he is willing, to bring about more pro-people shift in Congress approach. His well wishers will be watching his moves, even in the Congress. (IPA Service)