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'Congress has tied its present and future to one family, but India has moved on'

May 25, 2023 11:24 IST
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'Modiji has a vision for the country, not just to fight the elections but about achieving certain goals for the country.'
'Congress does not even have a vision for 25 days.'

IMAGE: United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, party leaders Rahul Gandhi and others at an election meeting for the Karnataka assembly elections in Hubballi, May 6, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

The exodus from the Congress to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is not news these days.

It no longer surprises anyone when people are abandoning a sinking ship.

But in Kerala, it surprised everyone when Congress veteran A K Antony's son Anil Antony left the Congress to join the BJP.

A K Antony is not just any Congressman, he was a trusted lieutenant of the Gandhi family and served as defence minister in Dr Manmohan Singh's government.

Soon after Anil Antony joined the BJP, his father told the media that he was pained and hurt by his son's behaviour. His younger brother urged him to come back to the Congress.

But Anil stuck to his guns. Perhaps the BJP sees him as the 'minority' face to draw young Christians to its side.

After Narendra D Modi's visit to Kerala last month where Antony Jr shared the dais with the prime minister along with other young achievers from Kerala,'s Shobha Warrier spoke to Anil Antony about how he came to be in the BJP.

The concluding segment of a two-part interview:


Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra is projected as a success because he was able to connect with people...

I don't know on what basis the Congress party thinks it was a success. Yes, he walked from one end of the country to the other.

But if you look at the election results after the yatra, the Congress was wiped out in the three North Eastern states and Gujarat.

There was a by-election in Telangana where Mr Gandhi passed through.

It was a sitting seat of the Congress, but the Congress candidate lost even the deposit.

If you look at the election results, the public has not accepted the yatra or Mr Gandhi in any manner.

Did you ever share your concerns with your father?

I shared my ideas with my father who was in the Congress party for 65 years.

He was a parliamentarian for almost 52 years. At 81, he has retired from active politics and public life. His political phase is over.

I keep saying that the country has changed, and today India is an aspirational country that wants to move forward.

Sadly, the problem with the Congress party is that it thinks the family's problem is the party's problem and the Congress party's problem is the country's problem. But that's not what it is.

Every political party exists for a reason, but the Congress party gives no importance to the nation. Thats why people are not connected with the party in any manner.

IMAGE: Anil Antony being welcomed by Bharatiya Janata Party National President Jagat Prakash Nadda alongwith Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, New Delhi, April 6, 2023. Photograph: Kind courtesy Anil Antony/Twitter

You have interacted with Rahul Gandhi and now Narendra Modi. What difference do you see in them?

It's about the concept of India itself. On one side, Modiji has a vision for the country, not just to fight the elections but about achieving certain goals for the country.

He talks about a nation-building process for the 100th year of independence, 25 years from now.

While Modiji is a 24/7 politician with a vision and direction, Rahul Gandhi though a good man doesn't have a vision or direction.

I feel the party does not even have a vision for 25 days.

The Congress party doesn't inspire the public or the youth as there is no direction in the party.

When I was in Kerala, many people told me that you were poached by the BJP...

There is nothing called poaching. When I left the Congress party in January 2023, I was not thinking of joining another party.

Afterwards, there was communication between the BJP and I...

Did they approach you, or did you approach them?

I don't like to speak about that as it's an internal matter. We had discussions and I joined the BJP.

IMAGE: A woman shows her affection for Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Thiruvananthapuram. Photograph: ANI Photo

The general talk is that as a part of the minority outreach programne in Kerala, the BJP wanted you because you belong to the Christian community.
Many people also say that like what has happened to Alphons Kannanthanam and Tom Vadakan, you also will be forgotten by the party after some time...

I would say, this is the talk of a bunch of Kerala politicians who live like frogs in a well without any national perspective.

Mr Vadakan is sitting in the national executive board of the party. Mr Kannanthanam was one of the top performing junior ministers in the government.

But that was in the last ministry...

They have performed their duties and they are still performing.

I have certain skills, experiences and expertise which are globally recognised. And the party sees value in it.

I am sure I will be able to contribute towards the prime minister's nation-building process using my expertise.

Don't you think your surname Antony...

It's undemocratic to say that just because your parents have certain political thoughts, you have to follow them.

This is a free country where every individual has absolute liberty to pursue whatever he feels right.

IMAGE: Anil Antony campaigns for BJP candidate Yashpal Suvarna in the Udupi constituency, Karnataka, May 5, 2023. Photograph: Anil Antony/Twitter

It was reported that your father was pained and hurt by your decision...

I have said at that time itself that we are four members in our family, and we have the deepest love, respect and affection for each other.

But we are independent individuals who have the right to pursue our own path.

Political life is different and family life is different. We are still family and a closely knit one.

But I totally believe that the country has zero future with the Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi, or the Congress party in the current format.

At the same time, I have full faith in the BJP led by Modiji.

Would you have remained with the Congress if it had a different leader at the top?

It's a hypothetical scenario. The Congress has tied its present and future to one family, but India has moved on.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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