Congress criticised for not supporting Opposition amidst raids by central agencies
Deccan Chronicle.| Vineeta Pandey
"At that time that the BJP was following in the footsteps of the Congress by using the Central agencies to threaten political adversaries." said SP supreme Akhilesh Yadav(File Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: The Congress appears to be watching from the fence as other Opposition parties are closing ranks due to increasing raids by Central investigative agencies on several of these parties. While the Congress selectively issues statements over such raids, it is yet to come out in support of the other Opposition parties, who are slowly firming up an alliance without the Grand Old Party.
On Sunday, nine leaders from eight Opposition parties had issued a joint statement alleging "political witch-hunting" by the BJP-led government at Centre. All these eight parties –Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamul Congress, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Jammu Kashmir National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party -- have many of their leaders facing the heat due to raids by the ED, CBI and the income-tax department.
The Congress has been reacting selectively on such raids which the Opposition parties term as "tools for political harassment" before the 2024 general election. For instance, it did react to the crackdown on RJD leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, but was silent when AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain were picked up and packed off to jail or when there were I-T raids on SP leaders just before the UP Assembly polls.
SP supreme Akhilesh Yadav had said at that time that the BJP was following in the footsteps of the Congress by using the Central agencies to threaten political adversaries. AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj was quick to point out recently that the Congress never stands by the rest of the Opposition and engages in a war of words with the BJP merely to "fool" the country.
The Congress, at its recent plenary in Raipur, had made it clear it wants to lead an Opposition alliance to counter the BJP juggernaut. But state differences in Telangana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh forced the party to take a step backwards and not go in for an all-out united Oppositon movement to target the Central government. Interestingly, the Congress also feels it and its leaders have been "unfairly targeted by the agencies at the behest of the BJP". Former Congress chiefly Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were extensively questioned by the ED last year. Besides some allies of the NDA, no significant regional outfit came to their support.
The 2024 Lok Sabha election is about a year away but there is no sign of Opposition unity as of now. Though every Opposition party is speaking about it, they are yet to find a leader who can stitch the alliance together. The Congress believes there can be no alliance without its leadership.
Incidentally, several Opposition parties have backed former Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s "Insaaf ka Sipahi" platform for social, economical and political justice. Whether this platform can help the Opposition parties reach a common ground remains to be seen.