Congress aims to tackle Centre head-on with its Bharat Bachao Rally, keeps CAB as epicentre of protest

  • Keeping CAB as the epicentre of the agitation, the Congress will raise issues of economic recession, high unemployment rates, rising prices of essential commodities and consumer goods, rising atrocities against women and minorities and the agrarian crisis

  • The Grand Old Party of India is hoping to flood Ramlila Maidan with its state cadres, who would bring out a 'cascading effect of the Centre's policies' on ground

  • Ahead of the General Election this year, the major Opposition parties including the Congress organised a massive 'Unite India' rally at Kolkata's historical Brigade Maidan on 19 January

With growing discontent against the contentious Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019 — especially in the North East — passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the Congress will seek to get its messaging right among the public, while staging its massive protest titled 'Bharat Bachao Rally' in New Delhi on 14 December.

After the Upper House cleared the bill, the Congress described Wednesday as a 'dark day in the constitutional history of India' and has decided to step up its attack against the Narendra Modi government through the rally, which was earlier scheduled to be held on 30 November.

Hundreds and thousands of Congress workers from all across the country will hit Ramlila Maidan — the protest destination of the National Capital — to air their voice against Centre's "anti-people" policies, both on economic or political front.

 Congress aims to tackle Centre head-on with its Bharat Bachao Rally, keeps CAB as epicentre of protest

File image of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. PTI

"Today marks a dark day in the constitutional history of India... In this moment of anguish, I would like to reiterate the Congress party's determination to be relentless in our struggle against the BJP's dangerously divisive and polarising agenda," said chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Sonia Gandhi in her statement after the bill was passed. The rally to be led by Sonia, shall draw its cadres from across all states and from all its frontal organisations.

Describing the rally to be a 'historic one', Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said, "The Congress has completed preparations for this massive Bharat Bachao Rally, which will be a historic rally against the anti-people policies of the Modi government. It’s the culmination of the agitation programme of the Congress, which was held at district and state levels throughout the country. We'll explore all possibilities (even moving Supreme Court) to stop this bill."

Keeping CAB as the epicentre of the agitation, the Congress will raise issues of economic recession, high unemployment rates, rising prices of essential commodities and consumer goods, rising atrocities against women and minorities and the agrarian crisis.

"Initially when the party planned this mega rally, the focus was on country's poor state of economy and agrarian plight, but now this CAB has emerged as a tool of divisive politics of the BJP in a big way. The government is misleading the public and the need of the hour is to make people aware of the real situation, which we'll aggressively take up through the rally," a Congress leader told Firstpost.

The Grand Old Party of India is hoping to flood Ramlila Maidan with its state cadres, who would bring out a 'cascading effect of the Centre's policies' on ground.

The Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh has promised to send 51,000 Congress workers from its 52 districts led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath for the rally. "Each district has been given a target of 10,000, and 51,000 workers, who will join the rally. Arrangement for special trains, buses and SUVs has been made for the purpose," said Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee treasurer, Govind Goel.

Besides other Congress-ruled states like Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, a large contingent of workers from various Congress organisations from non-Congress ruled states too are going to join the rally. Party frontal organisations like Indian Youth Congress, National Students Union of India, All India Mahila Congress, Indian National Trade Union Congress and Seva Dal have mobilised its cadre for this mega rally.

"A thousand workers are coming to Delhi from Odisha and many youths from Assam, Tripura and other North East states will join the rally. This Citizenship Amendment Bill is an attack on the Indian Constitution and through this illegal legislation, the BJP is attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation. The bill is nothing but an attempt to divert the attention of the people from economic slowdown, falling GDP, record unemployment, rise in prices of consumer goods and failures of Modi government," Smruti Ranjan Lenka, national secretary of IYC and in-charge Assam and Tripura, told Firstpost.

"This bill is also an exercise to distract from the failure of the BJP with respect to NRC in Assam, where around 19 lakh people have been excluded, yet many of them seem to be genuine Indians," he added.

The logo of the Bharat Bachao Rally

The logo of the Bharat Bachao Rally

Will the rally impact people on ground?

Size is no issue for the Congress, as it has asked its state units to bring as many workers as possible to Delhi, especially from Congress-ruled states, to make the rally the 'biggest in the last few years'. But, the actual impact the rally will have on the people of this country remains to be seen.

Ahead of the General Election this year, the major Opposition parties including the Congress organised a massive 'Unite India' rally at Kolkata's historical Brigade Maidan on 19 January. The bottom line of the rally was to rail against Modi and the BJP. The catch phrase was 'Remove BJP, Save Democracy', in which the host, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had said, "The Modi government is past its expiry date," while urging her comrades to take a pledge to save the country and protect democracy.

But, the election result ensured a landslide victory for the saffron party, a second term for Modi as prime minister and the BJP bagged its all-time high — 303 seats (282 in 2014), while the NDA got 353 seats. On the other hand, the Congress had a marginal increase in its seats from 44 in 2014 to 53 seats and the UPA bagged 91 seats. The BJP succeeded in increasing its tally in West Bengal from where the clarion call was given to uproot the BJP — from two seats in 2014 to 18 in 2019.

In the January rally, Opposition parties raised the issue of demonetisation, growing unemployment and job losses, and unfulfilled promises of the BJP. It failed to cut ice on the ground. Once again, the Congress will attack the Centre on similar issues — CAB is an addition. But, let's not forget that the Modi government has succeeded in getting the bill passed in both the Houses of Parliament with ease. If the Congress has to succeed, it should have its messaging right and sound convincing on the contentious CAB, or else it will sound like a rant from the past.

"This rally is not about the Congress or any election or about gaining power; it's about the country and the suffering of the common man. The prime minister promised achche din (good days) and people voted the BJP to power for a second term. But, the government has failed to fulfil its promises. This is a fight of the common Indian, the young and the poor," added Smruti Ranjan Lenka.

Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik added, "Congress workers have aggressively taken up these issues countrywide. The rally will be the beginning of the end of the Modi government."

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2019 07:46:54 IST