AK Antony’s statement of the Congress appearing to no longer being secular and playing minority politics just might be one of the reasons for the party’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections. Renu Mittal reports how the Congress may be adopting a new approach.
The warning bells are ringing loud and clear in the Congress party. After their poor showing at the Lok Sabha elections, senior leaders have raised the issue of Congress’s move of appeasing minorities and the perception that the party is no longer secular and more bothered about the minorities, which eventually led to the majority Hindu community feeling alienated and voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi.
The issue has come to the fore after senior Kerala leader AK Antony, who is known to be close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying that some sections of society had begun to question Congress’s secular credentials and whether it was being partial to particular communities.
Antony, given the responsibility of determining why the party’s poor showing, said, “Some sections of society have an impression that the party is inclined to certain communities or organisations. Congress policy is equal justice to everyone. But people have doubt whether that policy is being implemented or not. “This doubt is created by the party’s proximity towards minority communities, and such a situation would open the door for the entry of communal forces in Kerala.”
Following his statements, All India All India Congress Committee’s general secretary said that the party needed to sit up and notice of this and has already asked for a debate on this issue.
In fact, it is learnt that he had written to the Congress president on the same issue a few month backs, expressing his concern over the growing perception that the party was being seen as practising minority politics.
It has also been learnt that during the Congress’s Surajkund meeting in 2012, the issue had been discussed to some extent, during which Shakeel and Digvijaya Singh had a heated argument on the same.
The issue was taken up once again at Chintan Shivir in Jaipur but was largely ignored by the leadership and little to no attempts were made to put a stop to the numerous statements made by Digvijaya Singh about the Batla House encounter, which is believed to have damaged the party to a large extent.
In the run-up to the elections, Singh repeatedly raised the issue of Hindu terror, targeting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and even the Bajrang Dal. “His comments made them feel threatened so they built an army and vigorously campaigned for the BJP, leading to our defeat,” said a Congress leader, who said that Digvijaya’s politics damaged the party greatly.
And it is not just Digvijaya’s statements that hurt the party. Leaders from various states are learnt to have told Antony in the last few weeks that the statement of Imam Bukhari in the midst of the elections asking the Muslims to support the Congress, is also seen to have done a huge amount of damage to the party.
These leaders say that what is ironic is that at the end of the day, the Congress did not even get even the Muslim vote as that also deserted them in large pockets, where they had an option to vote for another regional party.
Furthermore, a number of leaders meeting Antony to discuss the party’s loss, have openly questioned Sonia and Rahul’s role in the defeat, alleging there was no leadership from the front. Attacking the Congress’s first family, some leaders said that there was no marketing strategy, no communication with the people and many blame Rahul for his choice of campaign advisers.