Congress leader A.K. Antony 'hurt' after son joins BJP

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Months after slamming the BBC and its documentary on the post-Godhra riots and quitting from his posts in the Kerala Congress, Anil K. Antony, the son of veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony, on Thursday joined the BJP in the presence of Union ministers Piyush Goyal and V. Muraleedharan at the party headquarters.

While the BJP welcomed the young leader for his "boldness, strength and courage of conviction for a matter of principle that he stood the ground for the nation," the former defence minister and Anil’s father said he was "hurt" by his son’s "very wrong decision".

After joining the BJP, Anil said, "Many of the Congress leaders believe that their duty is to work for a particular family, but I believe that my duty is to work for the people. PM Narendra Modi has a clear vision to make India a developed country in the next 25 years."

When asked whether he had consulted his father before joining the BJP, Anil replied, "This is not about personalities but about differences of opinion and ideas. I strongly believe that I have taken the right step. My respect for my father will remain the same."

Addressing the media in Thiruvananthapuram, an emotional Mr Antony said, "It’s a completely wrong decision. Since 2014 when the Narendra Modi government came to power, they have been striking at the roots of secularism and pluralism, which are the pillars of India’s unity. These hallmarks of India are being weakened systematically and continuously."

He said that during the first tenure of the Modi government, such attacks were less. But after 2019, the attacks on the ideals of unity in diversity have grown manifold.

"I will raise my voice against the divisive and destructive policies of the BJP and the RSS till the last breath of my life. The Nehru family has always seen all Indians as one, irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, language and region. Despite blatant attacks and repression, the Gandhi family has been fighting valiantly to safeguard the Constitution and its ideals. My respect, regard and love for the Gandhi family have grown further," he said.

"I am in the twilight of not only my political career but also my life. At 82, I am moving towards the last days of my life. I don’t know how long I will live. But I will die as an Indian National Congress worker," he said.

Mr Antony said this was his first and last reaction to Anil’s decision.

The Congress and the other Opposition parties had slammed the Modi government over the crackdown on the documentary, which was re-released earlier this year and was screened by student wings of the Congress and the Left parties at various universities.

However, Anil, who was the convenor of digital media in the Kerala Congress and one of the national coordinators in the AICC social media cell, had slammed the BBC as a "British state-sponsored channel with a long history of prejudice" and had maintained that giving precedence to the BBC documentary over Indian institutions "is setting a dangerous precedent and will undermine our sovereignty."

For its part, the BJP asserted that Anil will "continue to play an important role in the state and national politics" and help the party grow its footprint in Kerala.

Describing Anil as "a multi-faceted personality" and a "political and social warrior who cares for Kerala and India and someone who believes in India first," Mr Goyal said, "He (Anil) raised strong objections to the BBC documentary, which sought to inflame tempers and raise completely unfounded and baseless allegations against the Prime Minister. It was obviously not liked by the Congress party, which around the same time was trying to use British soil to attack all democratic institutions in India…"

The BJP claimed the young leader was "truly insulted (by the Congress) with the treatment meted out to him for standing up for India and national pride". "I compliment him for his boldness, for his strength and courage of conviction on a matter of principle that he stood the ground for the nation," added the Union minister.

Reacting to his son’s decision, Mr Antony said that Anil’s decision to join the BJP had pained him no end.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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