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Kanhaiya Kumar can get the Congress some traction but what next?

Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNUSU president, can be an asset but why is the Congress busy collecting assets when it has no strategy to use them. Kanhaiya’s move from the CPI to the Congress indicates that Bihar’s Leningrad is getting bored with just slogans and wants more. Of what, even Kanhaiya won’t know.

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Kanhaiya Kumar

By Vikram Kilpady

With the Congress woefully short on motormouth Hindi speakers ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections and the larger 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Kanhaiya Kumar looks like a gain for the Congress which he joined in the presence of Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday. Gujarat Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mewani, who was with Kanhaiya, voiced his support for the Congress agenda though he did not formally join it citing Assembly rules since he is an independent MLA. Kanhaiya is a good speaker and a livewire who can keep people entertained and hold his own against hectoring by either the centrists or by the right. That too with elan and good humour to bat away attacks. There are many good YouTube videos as evidence, one just needs to do a cursory search.

Kanhaiya can do all this in Hindi, and English, without missing a beat or a wink or being caught in unsure pauses that several Congress speakers resort to, Rahul Gandhi included, and are often parodied by the media for their inability to speak the language and what-not. If Rahul Gandhi is a load and shoot rifle, Kanhaiya is the KK-47 and therein lies the rub because like all assault rifles, can the Congress suffer the heat a speaker like Kanhaiya can generate?

As well-documented, Kanhaiya was a Communist Party of India member and had been president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union on the ticket of the CPI’s student wing. He had also contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election for the CPI from Begusarai, Bihar’s so-called Leningrad, and lost to Giriraj Singh of the BJP, the original go-to-Pakistan man. 

This is possibly where Kanhaiya realised that revolutionary slogans were fine to enthuse the youth, both rural and urban, and the poor, predominantly rural, but power was not for the taking so easily for the CPI (seen as a Bhumihar party) anymore. Unlike the CPI and its allies, the ultra-left CPIML Liberation won 5 seats in the Bihar elections. Possibly, the masses of Bihar didn’t trust their own boy, now a big Delhi man spouting slogans of aazadi for everyone, including Kashmiris.

This is what will weigh him down, and by extension, the Congress. The pre-spring 2016 sloganeering in JNU of aazadi is still the smallest thorn that can be used to prick the otherwise impregnable wall of rhetoric and common sense that Kanhaiya can raise in a debate. The BJP has had a measure of him in Bihar and he can be easily read by the party there. That’s the right-wing point against him.

The centrist remembers that Kanhaiya kept his distance when the dadis of Shaheen Bagh put out quilts and shamianas to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act-NRC-NPR. Unlike his comrades from JNU who came and kept a low-profile, Kanhaiya has almost no profile when Shaheen Bagh stood out as an example of citizens holding the State to account for being crass and despotic, even when the media sided against them. Further, Umar Khalid still continues to be in prison under the draconian UAPA but Kanhaiya has largely kept quiet.

The silence on his part is emblematic of the way the Left has of coming apart like the Titanic after hitting the iceberg of caste and privilege. The original Communist Party, the CPI, formed in 1925, had lost its spunk post-1950 after it toed the Soviet Union line not to disturb the Congress. What else could it do as the global fountainhead of Communism was not keen on antagonizing Nehru and his daughter?

Unhappy with this line, the alleged hotheads formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) as the differences between the Soviets under Khrushchev and China under Mao Zedong, who had the same big ideas as the now-dead Stalin, divided the communist world. The Marxists, meaning the CPM, as the Communists (i.e. the CPI) would derisively call the newer and more vibrant party, would see another split, leading to the birth of the ultra-left Marxist Leninists.

The CPIML would turn away from parliamentary democracy and take up arms, beginning in Naxalbari in 1967. The State, under Indira Gandhi, cracked down hard and destroyed that violent left turn with far more violent suppression of human rights. Many of those killed in pursuit of spring thunder were young men and women high on the ideas of revolution and low on the realities of the rural hinterland, policing and the generous use of extra-legal force. For a cinematic depiction, check this trailer.

So why is the Congress party bent upon getting Kanhaiya to join it. When his mere presence can become a huge negative? The Congress is stumbling from one crisis to another; just when the Punjab front was healing, Navjot Singh Sidhu ripped open a new fracture by quitting as PPCC chief.

The answer possibly lies in the fact that Kanhaiya is a champion at raising the esprit de corps among the Congress grassroots, which needs tending and protecting from the harsh lure of money and influence that the other side offers.

As someone said on social media, the Congress POV on the Ram Mandir doesn’t leave it much to hope for in terms of regaining Muslim votes, but Kanhaiya’s avowed aazadi stance could help swing a few of them, not to speak of Dalit votes pan-India, for among the many things the aazadi slogan seeks liberation from is Manu-wad.

It is significant that both Kanhaiya and Jignesh Mevani are turning away from the CPI and the CPM, respectively. The waning of the Communist-Marxist parties across the Hindi heartland, with the RSS-led BMS snatching away even its trade union constituency, the sign of the times is dispiriting for the mainstream Left. 

Read Also: Amid Punjab Congress turmoil, Kapil Sibal revives leadership questions

It would be amusing to see Kanhaiya Kumar and Congress leaders like P. Chidambaram share a table at a discussion. The hope that verbal flourish can give the Congress a fighting chance for more seats in the Lok Sabha is worth a gamble with avowed leftists, to overcome the charge of soft Hindutva.  

The Congress, it has been said so many times, encompasses both the left and the right. But can the centre hold? Especially when dissent is eating it away from the inside.

Then, there’s always the Trinamool Congress for Kanhaiya

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them

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Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu to crush the Aam Aadmi Party since its popularity among the people is rising too fast. Kejriwal was addressing Aam Aadmi Party workers at the party office in New Delhi where he claimed the AAP’s bank accounts would be frozen after elections and they will be brought on the roads and left without an office.

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them.  He further added that through Operation Jhaadu, AAP’s big leaders will be arrested; they are being arrested, and in the coming days, Aam Aadmi Party’s bank accounts will be frozen.

Kejriwal pointed out that ED’s lawyer has already given this statement in court that soon after the election, AAP’s bank accounts will be frozen. He said that if they freeze their accounts now, then AAP will get sympathy. As a result after the election, ED will freeze AAP’s bank accounts. He said AAP’s party office will be cleared out, and the party will be brought to the streets.  Kejriwal said these are the 3 plans made by the BJP.

The Delhi chief minister claimed that no gold or money has been recovered from him, and the BJP, by creating false cases has got AAP leaders arrested. Kejriwal recalled that since the time he came to power in 2015, many allegations had been against him by the BJP. He said after the liquor policy scam has happened people are asking them if the scam happened then where is the money. He pointed out that in other places, when raids happen, notes and gold are recovered, but here nothing was found. Kejriwal asked the people that where is all the money? He said BJP had made fake cases and arrested AAP leaders.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it.

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PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur on Sunday (May 19) amid the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024.  While addressing the election rally in Jamshedpur PM Modi said, people’s excitement told him what result will come on June 4 in Jamshedpur.

He recalled the time when he used to work as a BJP party worker for many years and used to ask people at that time they would come at 10 or 11 am to attend an election rally. But today he was witnessing a huge crowd here. The prime minister thanked all of them and said Lok Sabha election decides and strengthens the future of the country.

During a public rally in Jamshedpur, PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it. He further accused the Congress and JMM of snatching the reservation of SC and ST and the party leaders of the two parties are continuously abusing Modi every day. He asked if they are not able to think beyond this? He said the whole country has realised their truth.

PM Modi said, Congress and their ally parties, wherever they have governments, he challenged those chief ministers and this is not his political statement. The prime minister said Congress’s Shehzada keeps opposing business industries, businessmen and investments.

 PM Modi asked which businessman will go and invest in those states? What will happen to the youths of those states?  He said all investors who come to him and say that they would not go to these states because of their ideology against them. He said businessmen are verbally abused there and investors are forced to think that since Shehzada has this kind of thoughts, his ally parties would have the same thoughts as well. PM Modi added Congress is the mother of corruption and party was involved in coal and 2G scams as well

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Rahul Gandhi says Kejriwal will vote for Congress and he will vote for AAP

Gandhi said that if the prime minister comes in front of him, he would ask him questions about crony capitalism, unemployment, inflation, and farm issues.

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Rahul Gandhi says Kejriwal will vote for Congress, and he will vote for AAP

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was addressing an election rally on Saturday where he said that Arvind Kejriwal will vote for a Congress candidate and that he will vote for an AAP candidate in Delhi in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as a mark of strong bond between the two allies.

He further added workers of Congress and of AAP to work together to ensure the victory of their alliance in all 7 Lok Sabha seats in the national capital. In his address, Gandhi also challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate concerning the issues of India. The Congress leader said he is ready to debate with PM Modi whenever and wherever he wants, but he was confident that PM Modi would not come.

Notably, former Supreme Court judges Madan B Lokur and Ajit P Shah and senior journalist N Ram had written to Gandhi and PM Modi recently and invited them to a platform for a debate on the key Lok Sabha election issues. Gandhi said that if the prime minister comes in front of him, he would ask him questions about crony capitalism, unemployment, inflation, and farm issues.

The Wayanad MP said in his address that PM Modi has only worked for 22-25 people. He asked small businessmen from Chandni Chowk, what PM Modi had done for them? He said demonetization, GST, and other taxes had impacted small businessmen. He said billions of rupees of Adani and Ambani had been waived off. Gandhi said BJP is privatising railways and other PSUs as well.

The former Congress president questioned the prime minister about introducing the now-scrapped electoral bond scheme and further accused him of extorting money with the help of central agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Gandhi reffered to Delhi as the Brotherhood Capital and said that if people work together with love, there is progress.

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