Congress likely to go back to Left of Centre in future

By Kushal Jeena. Dated: 6/24/2019 11:33:48 AM

The elevation of firebrand Congress lawmaker Adhir Chowdhury as the leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha is indicative of the party's future political discourse of going back to the Left of the centre leaning abandoning the idea of embracing soft Hindutva as it has not only failed to yield electoral dividends but also put serious question marks on party's core ideology of secularism and plural democracy.
A five-time Member of Parliament from Behrampore Parliamentary constituency in north Bengal Chowdhury who has been a staunch opponent of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is considered to be an advocate of Congress-Left alliance in the country, has been awarded with the elevation as CLP leader in the lower House of Parliament for his organizational skills and strength and fighting spirit. By assigning Chowdhury with the responsibility of leading Congress contingent in the Lok Sabha the Congress party has also tried to send out a message to the ruling National Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the party is not going to sit down idle in the Parliament and would instead confront the government on every issue concerning the masses and the country.
The appointment of Chowdhury as the party leader in Lok Sabha might also pave the way for reshaping and rebuilding of the relations between the Congress and the Left parties that soared since the Left combine under the stewardship of Prakash Karat, a hawk and the then head of CPI (M) the main contingent in the Left block withdrew support from the government of United Progressive Alliance led by Dr. Manmohan Singh at the end of his first term on the issue of US-India Civil Nuclear Deal, which was considered to be a non electoral issue.
Even after Sitaram Yechuri, a moderator took the reign of the party from Karat tried to improve the relations between the Left and the Congress but failed as Karat was still holding control over the party organization. However, things started changing after opposition suffered two consecutive electoral drubbings at the hands of the BJP led ruling combine. An unexpected and impressive performance of the BJP in northeastern region and West Bengal and the role played by Mamata Banerjee during the process of attempts for opposition unity forced both the leaderships of the Left and the Congress to revisit state of their relations. It seems the CPI(M) leadership was more worried about its future in all three states of West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, which were considered to to be Left citadels amid reports of CPI(M) workers voting for BJP in the recent Parliamentary elections started pouring in West Bengal. The Left front lost miserably in all three states to TMC and BJP in West Bengal and Tripura and by Congress in Kerala.
The victory of Adhir Chowdhury and his elevation assumes significance in the backdrop of BJP candidates coming at number two in many seats that Trinamool Congress won and the Congress candidates lost miserably in the just concluded Parliamentary polls. Had the Congress and the Left come together in West Bengal and Tripura, situation would not have been that bad for two grand old parties that ruled the states for most of the time since independence in 1947.
"I have been given this responsibility. I was asked to stand in the front. I said okay. I am a foot soldier and foot soldiers stand in front. So I will fight as a foot soldier," said Chowdhury. Chowdhury was chosen to lead the party in Lok Sabha not because Rahul Gandhi refused to budge from his position of not taking back resignation from the office of Congress president after party's humiliating poll debacle, but because under the current political circumstances, Congress party finds itself more comfortable in the company of Left parties than other opposition outfits as ideologies of Congress under Gandhi dispensation has been close to each other.
In a rare show of departure from his stated position vis-à-vis Congress and the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the outset of his second inning in the office attempted to reach out to the opposition, underscoring the vital and important role the opposition is assigned to play in democracy irrespective of numbers.
"When we come to Parliament, we should forget about paksh (side) and vipaksh (opposition). We should think about issues with a nishpaksh (impartial) spirit and work in the larger interest of the nation," Modi said after taking oath. The Congress heavyweight from Bengal Adhir Chowdhury, who won with an impressive margin of 3.56 lakh votes among the 44 Congress winners last time grabbed immediate available opportunity and reacted to Prime Minister Modi's outreach to opposition:
"If the Prime Minister's message is delivered to his ministers or juniors then it will be beneficial to all… What the Prime Minister is preaching is most of the time not being implementing by their party leaders". While acknowledging the importance of Chowdhury in anti-Mamata and anti-BJP political space in Bengal, the CPI (M) extended full support to him despite RSP, one of the smaller partners in the Left front putting up its candidate against him. With the support of CPI (M) Chowdhury not only was able to counter the high voltage offensive of Mamata Banerjee but also won the seat comfortably.
"Mamata Banerjee employed all her might, the administration and the police to defeat me. But this is not a challenge enough for me. I would have liked it if she herself contested against me," he said. As the chief of the West Bengal Congress Adhir Rajan Chowdhury once drew crioticism not only from his party colleagues but also from other non-BJP parties particularly the ruling Trinamool Congress for his meeting with the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow ahead of the general elections.
His meeting with Yogi Adityanath has ruffled feathers in the Congress camp, especially in the backdrop of buzz that the leader has been hobnobbing with BJP functionaries for some months now. Bengal Congress leaders view the meeting as something that "dilutes" Congress' agenda a day before the opposition prepared to mount a countrywide attack on the ruling BJP on the first anniversary of demonetisation. Chowdhury denied any political motive behind the meeting while admitting he had "asked for time from the UP CM to discuss the well-being of many people from Bengal, working in the state".
His detractors also say that he has been made as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha to prevent him from joining the BJP bandwagon. However, many of the senior Congress leaders have dismissed such allegations as baseless and mischievous saying he has been awarded for his experience in the Parliament and his consistent fight against both Mamata Banerjee and the BJP in West Bengal.
"Now he (Chowdhury) has a national perspective for him to represent in the Parliament. He has greater responsibility to discharge. He will get more opportunities to prove his abilities," said a senior party leader from Bengal.



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