Kanhaiya Kumar joins Congress

Kanhiaya joins Congress, Mevani to fight next Gujarat polls as Cong candidate

Kanhaiya defended his decision, saying that he believes in people's aspirations, Mahatma Gandhi's oneness, Bhagat Singh's courage and B R Ambedkar's idea of equality

Kanhaiya Kumar. Credit: PTI file photo

Young leader Kanhaiya Kumar joined the Congress after quitting the CPI on Tuesday while Gujarat independent MLA Jignesh Mevani promised to fight the next Gujarat Assembly elections under the party's symbol, on a day the main Opposition party stumbled into another political crisis after its Punjab state president resigned from the post.

Just before officially joining the Congress, Kanhaiya along with Mevani accompanied former Congress president Rahul Gandhi to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park in the national capital to celebrate the birth anniversary of the iconic freedom fighter.

Back at the Congress headquarters, Kanhaiya, who shot to limelight after a sedition case was registered against him when he was Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President in 2016, filled in the form to join the party while Mevani did not officially join the party as law makes it clear that an independent MLA stands disqualified if he or she joins a political party.

However, Mevani made it clear that he would fight the Gujarat elections as a Congress candidate. "I could not join the Congress formally due to technical reasons. I am an independent MLA and if I join a party, I cannot continue as an MLA...I am part of the Congress ideologically, and will fight the upcoming Gujarat polls from the Congress symbol," he said.

At a press conference at the Congress headquarters, Kanhaiya said, "I am joining Congress because I feel that an (BJP-RSS) ideology is trying to ruin the values, culture, history and future of this country...if Congress is not saved, the country cannot be saved...Congress fights the BJP directly in 200 seats and it is a big party. If a big ship is not saved, we cannot save the smaller ones."

The press meet was attended by Mevani, Congress General Secretaries K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala, Treasurer Pawan Bansal, Congress' Bihar in-charge Bhakta Charan Das and Gujarat Working President Hardik Patel.

CPI General Secretary D Raja described Kanhaiya's move as "sheer betrayal of the party and communist ideology" as he did not have the commitment to work for the downtrodden and said he was guided by "personal ambition and personal motive". He said Kanhaiya had recently attended the National Executive of the party in Delhi but never raised any ideological issues within the party or with leaders.

"Kumar expelled himself from the party...I and some other leaders spoke to him but he told us that all talk about leaving the party was rumour. He was not straightforward and truthful to the party," Raja told reporters.

Hours before quitting the party, Kanhaiya emailed Raja his resignation at 1:19 PM. "In the current circumstances, there is a need for a strong and active communist party in the country. I hope that our party will fulfill this. Sadly, but I want to be relieved from the organisational responsibilities of the party. I wish to fulfil the political and ideological responsibilities through other means. I request you to relieve me from all fora of the party," Kanhaiya said in the email in Hindi.

Kanhaiya defended his decision of joining Congress saying that he believes in people's aspirations, Mahatma Gandhi's oneness, Bhagat Singh's courage and B R Ambedkar's idea of equality and the Congress will protect it.

"I am joining Congress because it is not just a party, it is an idea. It is the country's oldest and most democratic party and I am emphasising on democratic...Not just me, many think that country cannot survive without Congress," he said.

Mevani said to save democracy and the idea of India, he had to be with a party that led the Independence struggle and dragged the British out of the country.

Venugopal said, "we look forward to working with these young leaders, Kumar & Mevani, to defeat the fascist forces ruling this country...Kanhaiya Kumar is a symbol of the fight for freedom of expression in this country. He fought against fundamentalism as a student leader. The joining of a dynamic personality will fill the entire cadre of Congress with enthusiasm."

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