New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called on party colleague P Chidambaram in Tihar Jail where he has been lodged in connection with the INX Media case.
The message that the party wants to send out through the gesture is loud and clear — that the Congress not only firmly backs its leaders in jail but also that it will want to spell the instance out as a case of political witch-hunt against the party. The Congress is aware that this could be a long battle and there may be more in the queue. For instance, DK Shivakumar is already in jail and he too may be visited by the top two within the party.
Another reason why the Congress wants to put up a united front is that it hopes its leaders in jail don’t force the perception created by the BJP that the grand old party is all corrupt and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to take firm action against the corrupt. Sonia Gandhi is aware that this would push the Congress further away in the political game of perception. Taking a leaf out of the book of Indira Gandhi, who used her jail term to bounce back, Sonia Gandhi hopes that this would do the same for her party.
There are many plans in place too. Party units have been told to hold street protests and make a case for systematic targeting of Congress and other opposition leaders. A senior Congress leader said: “The irony is that Chidambaram has never been a grassroots leader and he has done scant for the party. But today, he is being used to galvanise the party.”
This is an irony that is not lost on the rest of the party. But when orders come from the top, most in the party are willing to overcome their reservations. In fact, after Ashok Chavan’s resignation, which was followed by many others like Shashi Tharoor, Pawan Bansal and Ashwini Kumar, the Congress in a rethink felt that it came needlessly under media and BJP pressure — a mistake it is unwilling to repeat — and hence, will back its leaders, not willing to go into the rights and wrongs of the case.