A surprise pick for the position of Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, five-time Congress MP from West Bengal ADHIR RANJAN CHOWDHURY gave an impressive speech at the start of his innings. The Behrampur MP, known to be more of a grassroots leader, now wants to take the Opposition along to counter the BJP, which he agrees is in an expansionist mode in West Bengal and across the country. In an interview with SREEPARNA CHAKRABARTY, he speaks about how he plans to coordinate for his party in the Lok Sabha.
How do you feel at being entrusted this responsibility?
I had not expected this position. So it came as a surprise when I was informed of it. I know it is a huge responsibility.
I am grateful to the leadership of our party president Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) president Sonia Gandhi for having entrusted me with this responsibility. My top priority is to prove myself worthy of it in my limited capability.
What do you think the Opposition floor strategy should be in the current situation? Should everybody come together and fight as a single unit?
Everybody knows what is the exact number that we (the Opposition) have inside the House. But it does not matter how much of the numbers we have or do not have. It does not matter as Parliament is a forum where even a single voice matters.
We will try our level best to prove ourselves. Being members of the Opposition Party, we will be raising issues about the common people and the nation.
It does not matter how much of the numbers we have. In each and every matter there will be no division.
You have attacked the Trinamul Congress (TMC) in the past. Now that you are the Congress floor leader, do you think the TMC and the Congress should work together?
I do not want to comment on that. But everybody should realise the need of the hour and work accordingly.
The BJP is on expansion mode in Bengal. What is your opinion on this?
It is a fact that the BJP is trying make India free of any Opposition. That is their motto.
Just recall the President’s address where he quoted from the poets of just two states — Kerala and West Bengal. I pointed this out to Ms Sonia Gandhi and she agreed.
The BJP has been focussing on both these states, which are situated on the two fringes of our country — Kerala and West Bengal. In fact, the BJP has been exhausting its resources in capturing Kerala and West Bengal. Already, they have made good progress in West Bengal which we cannot deny. In the presidential address, the government’s initiative was clearly demonstrated in the address by none other than the President himself.
The objective of the party (the BJP) is very much clear. We are waiting to see other game-plans of theirs in the future.
The President’s address was a solemn occasion. I think the government should not focus on degrading such a solemn position as that of the President.
What is your opinion on one nation one poll?
This is a diversionary tactic being played out by the BJP when it is failing on all fronts. Now they are raising one nation one poll. Is this the only issue in the country right now?
They are creating an issue when there are many other issues.
You are known to have a good equation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He even praised you at the pre-session all-party meeting by calling you a “fighter”.
The Prime Minister belongs to no one. It is a chair and he is of the entire country. Even the President wished me by name before the joint session. It felt good.
What issues will your raise as leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha?
My party believes in democracy, dissent and discussion. I also think that the ordinance route is not correct. There needs to be more scrutiny of legislation in the parliamentary system. The moment we sign up to become primary members of the Congress Party, we pledge to follow the parliamentary system of democracy. The need of the hour as I mentioned in my Lok Sabha speech was that a clergy needs to begin to see Ram in his mosque and a priest needs to see Rehman in the temple. That is our idea of India.