On Support For Manish Sisodia And AAP, Congress’s Struggle Is Real
The Congress is struggling with its response to the arrest of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is Arvind Kejriwal’s number two in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
A day after talking about “political vendetta, harassment and selective targeting of opposition leaders”, the Congress called for a “proper investigation” into the Delhi liquor case, in which Manish Sisodia was arrested on Sunday.
“We want a proper investigation into the liquor scams,” said the party’s Supriya Srinate.
The Congress also questioned AAP’s silence when it came to showing support.
“We want to ask AAP why they were silent, what their stand was when we were hounded by the agencies,” Ms Srinate said.
Most opposition parties have come out in support of AAP, which has strongly denied the allegations against its top leader.
The Congress, however, has been slow to react and cautious when talking about a party that has been eating into its vote base in many states, even replacing it as main opposition party. Last year, the Congress lost Punjab, one of the few states it ruled, to an AAP sweep.
The Congress and AAP have been adversaries from the start; one of the key factors behind the fall of the Manmohan Singh-led Congress government at the Centre in 2014 was the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare, which also featured Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. The Congress never quite recovered from that setback and has been losing ground ever since.
Shortly after Mr Sisodia’s arrest, the Congress in Delhi called it a “welcome step”, playing its part of a bitter rival of AAP in the capital.
As more and more opposition parties voiced their condemnation of the arrest, the Congress’s leadership nuanced its response without referring to Manish Sisodia.
“The Congress has always held the belief that institutions like ED (Enforcement Directorate), CBI and Income Tax Department have become instruments of political vendetta and harassment under Modi Sarkar. These institutions have lost all professionalism. Opposition leaders are selectively targeted to destroy their reputation,” said Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary.
Mr Sisodia’s arrest has apparently unified the opposition ahead of next year’s general election. Several parties have come out in support of AAP, including Congress allies like Shiv Sena, NCP, Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav.
As the opposition preps to take on the BJP in 2024, the Congress’s dilemma is bound to worsen.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who faces an election later this year, made a cautious comment on Mr Sisodia’s arrest.
“Many Manish Sisodias have faced similar action and have been arrested. You and I don’t know about them, but we know about Sisodia as he is deputy Chief Minister. Many journalists, writers and thinkers are in jail in this government. What’s happening in the country, people have to think about it. If you go according to Modi-ji and politics of religion, this government will suffer,” Mr Gehlot said.