Congress’ Bihar ally RJD on Monday asked Gandhi to look at recent electoral history of regional parties putting up a strong fight against the BJP as it took a swipe at him for his critical comments aimed at them, saying the Congress leader’s claims were “bizarre” and not in sync with his own party’s stand.
RJD spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha said regional parties are strong in a majority of Lok Sabha seats in the fight against the BJP, and the Congress should settle to be “co-travellers” and let them be in the “driving seat” in over 320 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies. This is a point RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has also made, he noted.
He referred to the Congress declaration at the camp to take a swipe at him, saying Gandhi will revise his statement if he looks at data. These kind of statements have no traction with history, he said.
The declaration said the Congress was committed to establishing a dialogue with all like-minded parties to protect the spirit of nationalism and democracy and would keep open avenues for forging alliances according to political circumstances.
Another ally of the Congress — the JMM in Jharkhand — also pointed out that it is the Congress that is dependent on regional parties for survival in the states.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy derided the Congress, saying the party has developed a “phobia” of regional parties. Rahul Gandhi, he said, should remember that the Congress ruled at the Centre for 10 years only with the help of regional parties.
In an apparent sarcastic note, he asked the former Congress president to elaborate to regional parties about ideological commitment, while saying that the national party has no presence in most parts of the country.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tried to play down Gandhi’s comment.
“I think what he (Rahul Gandhi) meant — at least we all understood by what he meant — was that we have a national vision. We speak for and think of the country as a whole. Whereas regional parties by its very character and nature is usually confined to one particular region or interest group,” Tharoor was quoted by NDTV as saying.
“I think, for example, much of the ideology of Trinamool, the RJD, the Samajwadi Party or even for the most part the DMK, will be congruent to and compatible with what the Congress stands for,” he added.