AAP in Bandh, but says not endorsing Congress

(L-R) Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former congress president Sonia Gandhi, and AAP leader Sanjay Singh at a \'dharna\' during the \'Bharat Bandh\' protest called by Congress and other parties against fuel price hike and depreciation of the rupee, in New Delhi, Monday, Sept 10, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Congress may have managed to bring AAP to its protest venue after working the telephone lines but the Arvind Kejriwal-led party was quick to note that its participation in the 'Bharat Bandh' should not be seen as an endorsement of the Rahul Gandhi-led party.

The surprise presence of AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh at Raj Ghat, where Congress president Gandhi and other Opposition leaders were present at a Congress-organised protest had set the tongues wagging.

While it emphasised opposition unity, AAP minced no words in a statement issued after the conclusion of the 'Bharat Bandh' that Congress cannot be the "umbrella under which all opposition parties are comfortable" and wanted it to "shun its big brother and unreasonable attitude" towards other parties.

Only the previous evening, AAP had lashed out at Congress saying it does not have the moral right to organise the 'Bharat Bandh' though the party said it was against the fuel price hike.

Sources said AAP was adamant that it will not support the Congress call for the 'Bharat Bandh' but senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel reached out to AAP top leadership reasoning with them the need for standing united.

This, as well as the understanding that the protest was "gaining traction" among public, prompted a re-think and Kejriwal directed Singh to attend the Raj Ghat protest where leaders from Congress and other parties were present.

With Delhi Congress leaders targeting the AAP on a daily basis and the ridiculing the latter's attempts for coalition in Lok Sabha polls, the AAP statement warned Congress, "no political party in India is subservient to Congress and it must bear this fact in mind."

"In principle, the AAP today lent it's in-principle support to the protest against the rising prices...However, this should not be in any manner seen as support for Congress," it added.

AAP's Aatishi had attended a joint Left party protest, called separately by the communist parties, at Jantar Mantar.

While AAP understands the need for a united Opposition, AAP leaders feel that Congress' big brother attitude and the reluctance to engage them in joint opposition agitations are counter-productive.

CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress leaders have reasoned with the Congress to include AAP in the scheme of the things and off late, the Kejriwal-led party has got space but not in a full-fledged manner.

This battle between the AAP and Congress come at a time the Opposition is upping the ante against the Modi government by building an anti-BJP narrative centred around its “anti-people” measures.

  • AAP
  • Congress
  • Bharat Bandh