Sad moment for democracy, but Congress will survive: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
The spotlight is on the Congress party. In Karnataka, Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) government is fighting for survival and in Goa, 10 out of 15 Congress MLAs have crossed over to the ruling BJP. These developments have posed serious questions over the ability of Congress leadership to hold its flock together in Karnataka and Goa post 2019 elections. Serious questions are being raised about the credibility of the Congress and its voice in the polity. Will or won't the grand old party revive is the big question now.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to know reasons behind crisis in Karnataka and Goa. She also sought his views on veteran Congress leader Dr Karan Singh's remarks about Congress plunging into a deep crisis.
Chowdhury has squarely blamed the BJP for troubles in Karnataka and Goa stating that it was indulging in ‘poaching politics’. "Poaching politics is a new syndrome of political landscape in India. If ruling party with all its might, resources tries to invade into territory of other parties, it will certainly create a bad omen for the country and democracy will be a worst casualty," he said. Conceding that the Congress is facing a crisis, Chowdhury but insisted that it will be able to handle the crisis. The five-time West Bengal MP suggested that the Congress and opposition parties must stand united and foil the attempts to destabilise non-BJP governments in the country.
IC: In Karnataka Congress-JD(S) coalition is fighting for its survival in the government. What has gone wrong in the Congress Legislative party in Karnataka?
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: A new political syndrome is emerging where the ruling party is intending to capture power by engineering defections. It is a sad moment for democracy in India. We strongly oppose this conspiratorial politics. It will have long term implications on Indian politics.
IC: You have blamed the BJP for engineering defection. But the fact was that the Congress MLAs were disenchanted with the leadership and started looking towards the BJP for better future.
The defection was not voluntary. These MLAs were lured, induced and intimidated by the BJP and were kept in a hotel in Mumbai under surveillance. The political interest compelled the BJP at centre to provide protection to these MLAs. The NDA government at centre and its supporters kept tight vigil on MLAs who shifted their loyalty towards the BJP.
IC: After the SC ruling, the onus is on the Karnataka Speaker to decide the fate of MLAs who resigned from the Congress. How optimistic are you that the Congress-JD( S) government will survive?
It is simple arithmetic that a majority party will form the government. If we have the requisite numbers then this government will continue. In this case, morality has been the victim of BJP's political manoeuvring.
IC: In Goa 10 of 15 congress law makers merged with the ruling BJP. Who would you put the blame on? Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi held a protest in Parliament on Thursday (July 11) against the developments in Goa.
The political developments in Goa were similar to developments that unfolded in Karnataka. At the same time, I would say that we can't hide our failure. The BJP which has been preaching transparency, political integrity and democratic principles, has been doing exactly the opposite. The BJP stooped low.
IC: In Telangana Congress suffered a similar collapse, where 12 of its 18 lawmakers crossed over to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's party. These incidents clearly point out the fact that all is not well within the Congress party. Your comments.
I admit that it is a failure of our party to keep the flock together. The steps taken by the party were inadequate which led to these developments.
IC: Karnataka and Goa episodes happened because of the leadership crisis in Congress. When Rahul Gandhi resigned after the rout on May 25, senior Congress leaders have remained busy for days persuading him to withdraw the resignation. This led to confusion among the congressmen as to the party’s future.
Yes. Right now we are in a little crisis and that is a matter of great concern. Each crisis is followed by opportunity. Adequate steps will certainly be taken up to restore faith of workers in the Congress party.
IC: Veteran Congress leader Dr Karan Singh said he is "aghast" at the disorientation into which the party has fallen since Rahul Gandhi's resignation, and urged the working committee to meet and take necessary decisions.
His concerns are justified. Congress party has inherent capacity to come out of a crisis. It has done it in past. Through his actions, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has displayed the courage and conviction to his party workers and the people of India. I am confident that the party will be able to deal with the crisis.
IC: Do you think a non-Gandhi can save the Indian National Congress?
It is an internal matter of the Congress party as to who would lead the party. We will certainly be able to sort out the issue soon.
IC: What is future of Congress party in the light of these developments?
The future of Congress party is bright. Without it, the whole civilisation of our country will not be safe.
IC: In wake of Karnataka and Goa, what should the opposition parties do?
All the opposition parties should sit, think and fight together against the BJP led NDA which is on capturing spree now. The BJP wants the entire country to be under its feet.
(Published on 15th July 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 29)