More Congress leaders find positives in Modi

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi addresses a press conference at AICC, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

As the Congress party fights an “ideological” war with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a section of the leadership within the party has cautioned against “demonising” the political opponent and stick to criticising his policies.

Congress leaders Abhishek Singhvi and Shashi Tharoor joined ranks with Jairam Ramesh, considered as the brains of the party, in saying that demonising Modi was wrong, and the Opposition actually ended up helping the prime minister by its strident personal attacks.

There has been unease within the Congress on personalised attacks on Modi, which grew shriller with Rahul Gandhi making 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' the campaign slogan for the recent Lok Sabha election that saw the return of the BJP with a larger mandate.

“Always said demonising Modi was wrong. Not only is he PM of the nation, a one-way opposition actually helps him,” Singhvi said.

On Thursday, Jairam Ramesh had set the proverbial cat among pigeons by claiming that the Modi model was not totally negative and asked the political class to recognise the traits he had brought to governance.

Tharoor piped in saying that he had been arguing for the past six years that Modi should be praised whenever he said or did a right thing. Doing so would “add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs”, Tharoor said.

Singhvi agreed with Ramesh and said that actions of Modi must be judged “issue-wise and not person-wise”.

Sharmistha, the daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, agreed with Singhvi. However, she said that she expected the same from Modi and his team.

"Instead of trying to diminish Pt. Nehru, they should accept his and Congress’ immense contribution and carry it forward," Sharmistha said,

Officially, the Congress party did not criticise the stand taken by a section of its leaders but put the onus of giving explanation and clarification on the individuals who had made the remarks. It asserted that the discussion should be on the economy and not the different voices within the Congress party.

“They are in the best position to clarify or amplify or retract or subtract their remarks. Insofar as the Congress party is concerned, we believe that there is a serious economic crisis in the country,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters here.

Ironically, the alternative voices in the Congress party came a day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi accused the Modi government of creating an atmosphere of fear and crushing dissent.

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