Analysis | Is Anil Antony’s overnight derision for Rahul a startling pitch for a saffron robe?

Anil Antony. Screengrab: Manorama News

Anil Antony sounds like a BJP spokesperson these days, and that automatically triggers speculation about his possible shift to the saffron camp.

Two months after he severed all his ties with the Congress, Anil, the son of party veteran A K Antony, is in no mood for a patch up. He is on the attack mode, and his target is the Congress party and its supreme leader Rahul Gandhi.

Those who know the kind of relationship his father shares with the party and the Nehru-Gandhi family at its helm can look at this sudden metamorphosis of Anil only with a sense of disbelief.

Antony’s son, of all the people?
Therein lies the whole drama that reinforces the idea that politics is all about uncertainty and unpredictability.

It’s not known what lies at the bottom of Anil’s hatred towards the party and its leader which he has been venting out through his Twitter handle and TV channels in the past few days.

He rose to political prominence, out of nowhere, when he was appointed digital media convener of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and national coordinator of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 2019.

Anil K Antony (left). A screenshot of his tweet. Photo: Twitter/ @anilkantony

In January this year, he quit the positions after remaining inactive for months. Anil left the party after making public his difference over the Congress’ stance on the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ on the 2002 Gujrat riots. While the Congress hailed the documentary for exposing PM Modi’s role in the riots, Anil, all of a sudden, came out wearing the ‘nationalist’ garb criticising BBC’s ‘vested interests’. He echoed the BJP’s narrative that the documentary was an invasion on the country’s sovereignty. This obviously angered the Congress cadre and the young party functionary had to face a flood of slamming, including abusive words.
Soon, Anil quit.

“I would prefer to continue my other professional endeavours without being fed this negativity and being involved in these destructive narratives, many against the very core interests of India. These I strongly believe will end up in the dustbin of history with time,” he stated in his resignation tweet.

Two months after the episode, instead of staying away from what he apparently termed ‘negativity’, Anil seems to be pushing himself into it, making statements that more than irk his former party cadre and please the BJP.

Anil Antony and AK Antony. Photo: Manorama Online

Anil sought to grab limelight again jumping into the controversy over the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as an MP. While not only the Congress but a host of opposition parties condemned and protested the move, the Antony Junior advised the Congress to ‘stop focussing on the gaffes and bloopers of an individual’ – read Rahul. The tweet made him a darling of the saffron camp and he became a so-called nationalist voice on news channels. In an Arnab Goswami prime time debate, he went on to say that “ it’s high time the Congress realised its problems are not the country’s problems.”

He made more than one tweet attacking Youth Congress national president B V Srinivas as a conroversy erupted over a speech in which the latter allegedly insulted Union Minister Smriti Irani. 

“Shameless people. From the day I resigned from my party roles, my inboxes and comment sections are flooded with filthy abuses from their underlings. Being an uncultured gutter mouth even if one can’t make any political argument of substance has become a basic criterion of the new @INCIndia @INCKerala. 2024 would be a great chance for the great people of India to send this den of negativity to the dustbin of history,” Anil wrote in one such hard-hitting tweet.

AltNews has fact-checked the allegation against Srinivas and found it to be false. However, Anil has not bothered to correct.

Anil has not made any statement on his future political plans. However, from his statements it is clear that he has been cosying up to the BJP, intentionally or unintentionally. He is readily available to defend the government whenever a criticism is raised. He has slammed the World Happiness Report 2023, which ranked India way below, saying “sinister forces are trying to malign the country.”

Anil seems to be in the wait-and-watch mode before making any announcement on the next move while BJP should be more than happy to have an amplifying voice in the son of A K Antony, inside or outside the party fold.

The Congress, on the other hand, has adopted ignoring him as a strategy. Except the comments made by party cadre on social media, no prominent leader has responded to the charges he has unleashed in the past few days. “There is nothing to respond to him. He doesn’t deserve our attention,” a young Congress leader told Onmanorama.

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