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News18 » India
3-min read

'Oppn Should Maintain Arm's Length from Protests': Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh's Advice on CAA-NRC​

"For the last couple of years, we have lost power not just at the Centre, but also in states, although there has been marginal revival (in pockets).... We still have a very long way to go," said Jairam Ramesh.


Updated:February 23, 2020, 12:42 PM IST
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'Oppn Should Maintain Arm's Length from Protests': Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh's Advice on CAA-NRC​
File photo of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. (Reuters)

Kolkata: Amid the ongoing bickering in the Congress post its dismal performance in the Delhi Assembly polls, its senior leader Jairam Ramesh said "collective submergence of individual egos and ambitions" was the need of the hour to revive the party. In an interview to PTI, the Rajya Sabha member and former Union minister said the party still has a long way to go "before it gets to see light at the end of the tunnel" and suggested that "all senior Congress leaders, after a certain age, should be mentoring juniors rather than tormenting them".

Speaking on the issue of a countrywide agitation against NRC-CAA-NPR, Ramesh insisted that political (opposition) parties should maintain an "arm's length from these protests and should not make attempts to hijack the people's movement".

"We are all working towards it. The magic doesn't lie in any individual's hand. It is a collective effort. It will call for collective endeavour, collective discipline and collective submergence of individual egos," he said. "All of us have individual ambitions. But right now there should be only one ambition -- the party's revival, retention of support base and return to power," Ramesh said, when asked about the future course of action of the country's grand old party.

Major infighting has erupted in the Congress, with leaders engaging in blame game, after the party drew a blank for the second consecutive time in the Delhi elections.

Suggesting that senior Congress leaders should guide their juniors, he said the party has to go the distance for its revival. "For the last couple of years, we have lost power not just at the Centre, but also in states, although there has been marginal revival (in pockets).... We still have a very long way to go... there is obviously light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is very long... We have a long way to go before we start seeing that light," he said.

Noting that the Congress is up against a very "formidable election machine", Ramesh said, "Fighting Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani is a different ball game from fighting master communicators Narendra Modi and Amit Shah." "The Congress leaders have to be very careful about what they speak and what they do, as the BJP will always try to polarise and communalise things," he told PTI here during the launch of his book 'A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon'.

Referring to the "spontaneous protests" against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), he said the issue should not be politicised. "We should maintain an arm's length from these people's protests. We should not try to politicise and hijack them. There are certain things a political party can do and certain things which a party can't and should not do."

"We should allow these protests to remain spontaneous because these are reflections of people's anger and frustration against the BJP government," he asserted.

In states, where the Congress is in power, the governments have moved resolutions against CAA-NPR-NRC, the former Union minister said.

"All that is constitutional and democratic has been done. We, as political parties, have fought it on the floor of Parliament, but we lost as we did not have numbers. We have also moved the court," he explained.

Ramesh, however, contended that state governments passing resolutions against the amended citizenship act, is more of a "political signal", and "whether it will withstand legal scrutiny is doubtful because granting citizenship is a central subject". "In case of NRC and NPR, however, the exercise can't be carried forward without taking the state government on board," he added.

Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the Congress is in power, have passed resolutions against the CAA. It has also supported a similar move by the Left government in Kerala. In West Bengal, too, the Mamata Banerjee government has passed a resolution against the CAA.

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