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'Rise Above Seeking Personal Comfort Spots': Adhir Ranjan's Retort as Anand Sharma Slams Cong-ISF Pact

Anand Sharma and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Anand Sharma and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Anand Sharma may be addressing the tweet to the party’s Bengal unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, but it was clearly a dig at Rahul Gandhi.

Sitting in chilly Shimla, Anand Sharma, a member of the group of 23 Congress leaders who had written to party president Sonia Gandhi last year, generated heat in Delhi with his late evening tweet on Monday.

Attacking the Congress for allying with the Indian Secular Front (ISF) in Bengal, Sharma said, “Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC. Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement West Bengal PCC President is painful and shameful, he must clarify.”

Sharma may be addressing it to the party’s Bengal unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, but it was clearly a dig at Rahul Gandhi. Clearly, the alliance was formed only with the approval of Gandhi and Sharma knows that.

Reacting to Sharma’s tweets, Chowdhury urged “a select group of distinguished Congressmen to rise above always seeking personal comfort spots & stop wasting time singing praises of PM”. “They owe a duty to strengthen the Party & not undermine the tree that nurtured them,” he added.

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Sources say this is just the beginning. At a meeting in Jammu, it was decided to step up the questioning of the Congress. Upset at being sidelined during the crucial state polls, the group of 23 senior party leader have a plan — to frequently raise questions over the party’s poll strategy, like alliance with Badruddin Ajmal in Assam and inability of the Congress to save the government in Puducherry.

One of the members said, “Gandhi was sent to campaign in Puducherry knowing fully well the government could fall. When it fell, it made him look silly that he could not save it. They should never have allowed him to campaign there at such a time. It makes him look weak and it is bad management.”

Regarding the tie-up with the ISF, Sharma has voiced the apprehension of many Congress leaders. Their worry is that when the Congress is on a Hindutva agenda, an alliance with a hardcore Muslim party like ISF would hurt the party. Said another dissenting leader, “Here, we have the Gandhis going to temples and wearing saffron turbans and then they sign up to ally with the ISF.”

It could pose a problem in elections in Uttar Pradesh with Ram Mandir being the key issue. As Priyanka Gandhi tries to capture the Hindutva votebank, the ISF could be an issue. For example, party leader Jitin Prasada, who formed the Brahmin Chetna Samaj eyeing the Brahmin votes of UP, is also Bengal in-charge. He cannot accept the charge of aligning with the ISF.

The next Jammu-style meeting is likely to be held in Himachal Pradesh and then move to other states. The Congress is now having to battle both the BJP and a section of the Congress in these state polls.