Kanhaiya Kumar joins Congress to ‘save idea of India’, questions Left’s ‘rigidity’

Unease in sections of Congress over the joining of former JNU Students Union president

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 28

CPI leader and former JNU Students Union chief Kanhaiya Kumar on Tuesday joined the Congress saying he wanted to save the idea of India and believed the grand old party alone could lead the ongoing ideological battle against the BJP.

Independent MLA from Gujarat’s Vadgam Jignesh Mevani also “joined in spirit” saying he could not formally take up the AICC membership as he was still a sitting MLA.

“I am with the Congress and will contest next elections on a Congress symbol,” Mevani said.

Both leaders met former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi before addressing reporters even as sections of party leaders privately expressed unease with Kanhaiya’s joining.

The ex JNUSU chief’s past (he was arrested for sedition in 2016 for shouting Azadi slogans on JNU campus after the hanging of terrorist Afzal Guru), a section of Congress felt, could hurt Congress’ long term political consolidation plans with the BJP fanning “anti-national rhetoric” starting today.

Ahead of Kanhaiya’s joining, BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted, “On the anniversary of the surgical strike, Congress to admit Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mewani of “Bharat tere tukde honge” fame. This can’t be a mere coincidence. Joining hands with “Breaking India” forces is now Congress’s raison d’être.”

For the Congress, the arrival of young leaders fits into Rahul Gandhi’s urge to build a “new aggressive party”, a development former minister Manish Tewari compared with times when late prime minister Indira Gandhi started to veer Left ward. Citing on Twitter the 1973 book “Communists in Congress: Kumarmanglam Thesis”, Tewari said, “The more things change the more they perhaps remain the same.”

The reference was to late Indira Gandhi who had started to learn towards the Left and even had in her cabinet card carrying member of the Communist Party Mohan Kumaramangalam who enunciated the Kumaramangalam thesis. The thesis spoke of Congress-Communist arrangement in terms of “Unity and Struggle”—Left struggles against Congress’ anti people policies and unites with it on socialist programmes.

With Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrival in Congress today, the Leftward slant has become evident.

Explaining why he left the CPI, Kanhaiya said, “I think the way it (CPI) is fighting today, we need to increase the speed and break ideological rigidity. Should all parties not mark the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh? Should all party offices not have the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi? If the country is on fire, can we stay off saying we will only save our house? The question of left and right has become irrelevant. We are facing a man who is a modern day Govinda (PM Narendra Modi) and keeps changing his form. We have to come together.”

Kumar, who lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Bihar’s Begusarai, said he was joining a “democratic Congress because he believed that if the Congress did not survive, the country would also not survive”. Calling the Congress the largest opposition party, he added, “If the big ship is not saved, small boats will also drown.”

Kanhaiya said there was a direct BJP-Congress fight in 200 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats, adding, “It is my historical responsibility to join the Congress and work to save the idea of India.”

Tribune Shorts


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