The Congress wants to be in a denial mode on Narendra Modi.
On Friday, the party ticked off Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, a key strategist of the Congress, for accepting Modi’s emergence as the BJP’s campaign committee head as a “challenge”.
This is no new phenomenon though. During the entire Gujarat Assembly elections in 2013, the Congress top brass -- Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi -- had refrained from mentioning the Gujarat Chief Minister by name or otherwise even once. They assiduously avoid making any reference to Modi, expect indirect ones. So it’s no surprise the Congress downplayed Ramesh’s remark that “Modi’s emergence on the national stage poses a managerial as well as an ideological challenge to the Congress.”
Promptly distancing itself from Jairam’s view, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed asserted that his party “did not consider” Modi as a challenge. “What Jairam has said may be his personal view. Right now, he (Modi) has become a challenge for the BJP and the NDA itself,” Ahmed retorted. He went on to add that “it was the considered view of the party” that the Congress will not bite the bait and join issues with the Gujarat CM.
Jairam Ramesh had compared Modi with the mythical character “Bhasmasura”. Not just that, he replied to a query comparing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Modi. Rahul, Ramesh claimed, was trying to create a structure and a system in the country, while Modi “is saying he is the system and the structure.”
The Congress has been straining to avoid a Modi vs Rahul political build-up in the run up to the general elections. Whether it is the party’s unofficial ideologue, Digvijaya Singh, or general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, they have harped on the point that the next general election would be fought on the performance and programmes of the UPA I and II governments.
The BJP immediately retaliated against Jairam’s comments saying that the people would be voting the Congress out for corruption and for using such derisive language against its political opponents. BJP’s Muktar Abbas Naqvi and Niramala Sitaraman said it was the Congress which was responsible for fascist moves, like the Emergency.It’s not so long ago that the Congress Rajya Sabha member Rashid Alvi called Modi “Yamaraj”. In a subsequent rejig, Alvi was dropped from the panel of Congress spokespersons.