A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi flayed Narendra Modi for 'misusing the public mandate' for creating an 'atmosphere of terror', several key faces in the party have called the strategy of levelling personal attacks on the prime minister counterproductive.
The first to speak out against 'demonising' Modi was former Union minister and veteran Congressman, Jairam Ramesh. "It is time we recognize Modi's work and what he did between 2014 and 2019 due to which he was voted back to power by over 30 percent of the electorate," said Ramesh on Wednesday.
"He (Modi) talks in a language that connects him with the people. Unless we recognise that he is doing things which people recognise and which have not been done in the past, we are not going to be able to confront this guy," said the Congress leader.
"Also, if you are going to demonise him all the time, you are not going to be able to confront him," warned the former Union minister, who held portfolios of Rural Development, and Drinking Water and Sanitation ministries in the Manmohan Singh government.
Ramesh sought to clarify that he is not asking anyone to praise or applaud the prime minister, but only wants the political class to at least recognise the traits he has brought to the governance – particularly the "economics of governance".
"Let me tell you it is not a completely negative story when it comes to economics of the governance, the politics of the governance is completely different," said the noted economist, adding "the social relations that have been created out of his governance model is also completely different."
Later, Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi also backed Ramesh, saying demonising the prime minister was "wrong" and his policies and actions must be judged issue-wise, not person-wise.
Singhvi tweeted: "Always said demonising Modi wrong. Not only is he PM of nation, a one way opposition actually helps him. Acts are always good, bad and indifferent—they must be judged issue wise and not person wise. Certainly, ujjawala scheme is only one amongst other good deeds."
Shashi Tharoor too came out in support of Singhvi and Ramesh, stating that he had espoused the strategy for over six years now, trying to impress upon Opposition leaders that demonising the prime minister will not be a good idea.
. As you know, I have argued for six years now that @narendramodi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs. I welcome others in Oppn coming around to a view for which i was excoriated at the time!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 23, 2019
The public criticism of party president's stand, even a subtle one, is rather a rare phenomenon in Congress. The fact that these leader's statements came close on heels of Sonia's scathing comments against Modi was lost on anyone, with most TV channels grabbing eyeballs with sensational ticker heads like 'Congress versus Congress', or 'divide in Congress'
Sonia, while addressing an event marking Rajiv Gandhi's 75th birth anniversary on Thursday, said, "In 1984, he (Rajiv Gandhi) won an unprecedented mandate but did not use that power to create an atmosphere of fear or threaten and scare. He did not use that power to destroy the independence of institutions, trample on dissent and divergent views and create dangers for democratic traditions."
"Today, there are those who are busy inventing a new past for Indians, while Rajiv Gandhi was engaged in inventing a new future," she said. "To him, the past has to be understood in all its complexities to build pride, not to stoke prejudice, to strengthen social harmony, not fuel antagonism and polarise our society, a society whose heritage has been enriched by multiple streams of faiths, beliefs and culture," Sonia said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 23, 2019 16:11:14 IST