Rahul's office attack: Congress ups the ante

A screengrab of SFI attack on Rahul Gandhi's (right) office at Kalpetta in Wayanad on Friday.

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress has no plans to let the CPM off the hook following the latter's discomfiture over its student wing's attack on Rahul Gandhi’s constituency office at Kalpetta in Wayanad.

The Congress response in the form of spirited protests indicates it will up the ante. It plans to expose CPM’s anti-Rahul moves during the July 2 protest marches to the Secretariat and the district collectorates over the allegations of the accused in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case.

The political reverberations in the aftermath of the SFI attack on Rahul’s office is being felt in Kerala soon after the national capital became politically turbulent in the last few days as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad.

CPI general secretary D Raja had stated that the ED is interrogating Rahul Gandhi continuously in an attempt to silence the Opposition. It is the same Rahul Gandhi’s office that was attacked by the student faction of the CPI’s ally, CPM in Kerala. CPI assistant secretary K Prakash Babu has urged the CPM to keep the SFI under control. Criticising the SFI’s action, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said there is no point advising them.

The SFI’s attack on Congress MP’s office has gained national attention and drawn flak from all quarters amid attempts to consolidate the unity of opposition among the non-BJP parties across the nation in the context of presidential elections.

The CPM was peeved as Rahul Gandhi had contested the parliamentary elections in Kerala in 2019 and had viewed it as an impediment to the Opposition unity at the national level. A condition that the CPM plans to present before the Congress would be that Rahul should not contest from Kerala in 2024. The SFI’s ‘unwarranted’ attack on the MP’s office has thus become a major pitfall for the CPM.

The Opposition is not ready to buy the Left’s claims that the incident did not happen with the knowledge of the party leadership.  Many in the Congress believe that it was a preplanned attack, designed by the CPM brains and executed by the SFI, to divert public attention from the gold smuggling allegations against the Kerala chief minister.

The Congress plans to intensify the protests stating the CPM’s move is to convince Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they are also against Rahul Gandhi, even as the Kerala Chief Minister himself may be interrogated by the central agencies over the allegations of the accused in the smuggling case.

The CPM had earlier denounced the attacks on Indira Bhavan and Cantonment House in retaliation to the in-flight protest and sloganeering against the CM by a few Youth Congress activists. (Indira Bhavan is the Congress state headquarters and Cantonment House is the official residence of the Opposition leader.) The recent LDF meeting had agreed upon not attacking the houses of political leaders or political party offices and had decided against any violation of the same. The consensus drawn by the Left Democratic Front was torn apart by the SFI activists, landing the CPM in a soup.

The CPM leaders are divided on the general conduct of the SFI activists. It is quite baffling why the student organization, which must be involved and act on academic issues, hit the streets in protest and unleash an attack in the name of the buffer zone mandated by the Supreme Court around forests and national parks.

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