'This is what happens when you get consumed by absolute power and the arrogance that accompanies it.'
"This episode will expose the links between some of the biggest crony capitalists in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This entire fracas will boomerang on Modi and the BJP," former Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.
- Part 1 of the Interview: 'Narendra Modi is clearly rattled'
Does the Congress have the instincts, organisation and guts to convert this adversity into an electoral opportunity?
I agree that the Congress should have been more aggressive long time ago, but der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never).
The Congress has now sincerely realised that they are facing an existential challenge, not electorally but through absolute abuse of institutions, investigative agencies and use of intimidation, harassment, and threats of disqualification.
I can assure you that the Congress has the organisation, the reach, the penetration, the resources in terms of people, but it now needs to up the ante, mobilise the resources, leverage its potential as the principal Opposition party, take to the streets to awaken the common people of India that this is not just about winning 2024 (general elections) but it's about saving India's future itself.
Do you see the Congress getting into mass mobilisation mode to take these issues to the Indian people?
The Bharat Jodo Yatra was one successful experiment that amplified how the Congress can connect with the masses and mobilise them across India.
I agree this requires mass mobilisation, which was once the biggest strength of the Congress.
Remember that the Bharat Jodo Yatra will also now start from the west to the east and the haath-se-haath-jodo (the Congress' mass outreach programme) campaign is already active as we speak.
The harassment meted out to Rahul Gandhi and many other Opposition leaders across the country, frankly speaking, has galvanised not just Congress supporters, but even the common people of India who look upon India as a secular democracy.
I can confidently assert that this (Gandhi's disqualification) ploy will boomerang on the BJP. This is what happens when you get consumed by absolute power and the arrogance that accompanies it.
I hope today (March 24, the day Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP)'s a tectonic day that will mark the beginning of the end of the BJP.
Was the Congress caught off guard by Rahul Gandhi's disqualification? Did they not see it coming or were they too complacent after the Bharat Jodo Yatra's success?
I disagree. If you heard Abhishek Singhvi's press conference yesterday (March 23), he was very categorical about the kind of repressive environment that we live in.
He said that in a normal political universe, any government would have waited for Rahul Gandhi's challenge (in an appellate court seeking to overturn the Surat district court's order sentencing him for two years) to be settled before disqualifying him. Anyways, the Surat court too gave Rahul Gandhi a 30-day period to go in appeal.
The fact that the BJP government moved immediately (to disqualify Rahul Gandhi) is an act of vindictiveness. I don't think the Congress was caught off guard.
By law, technically, until his conviction is stayed or his sentence is reduced, he can be disqualified.
The BJP is trying to create a narrative that Rahul Gandhi insulted the OBCs. Will the charge stick? If yes, how will it impact the Congress' electoral prospects?
I don't think the charge will stick. It only exposes how fraudulent the BJP is and how they are trying every trick in their bag to mislead the people of India. What he said has nothing to do with the Modis or the OBCs.
What he was saying was the BJP is a party that was protecting frauds. To protect these scammers the BJP wants to malign the entire community.
There is no Modi community to begin with and there was no attempt by Rahul Gandhi to malign the OBCs. Rahul Gandhi did not say that.
I think this entire episode will expose the links between some of the biggest crony capitalists in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This entire fracas will boomerang on Modi and the BJP.
Do you miss being in the Congress at a time when the party is fighting a battle for survival? Would you wish that you were part of the Congress when it is fighting back?
I have been an ideological supporter of the Congress party. As you can make out in this interview, I'm batting for it with all the passion and zeal which I would do even as a former spokesperson of the party.
I strongly believe that the Congress is capable of defeating the BJP and ensuring that a united Opposition returns to power in 2024.
As far as my return to the Congress is concerned, I guess when we come to the bridge we will cross it.
More importantly, I believe that while I may have had some differences with the Congress leadership at one point of time, I always felt that as a political organisation, as an ideological party of India, it's the Congress that represents the idea of India.
I don't think there is any alternative to the Congress as a national level party. I will continue to fight for it and wish the party the very best.