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Congress Protests for Gandhis, But What about Hitting The Roads against Bulldozers, Price Rise?


Big political protests serve multiple purposes. For a party that is down in the dumps, it could serve as a source of new energy and momentum. If it involves a top leader being the target, the protest could also serve as a show of loyalty and solidarity.

The Congress may have been hoping for both as its plethora of leaders reached Delhi on Monday to march with Rahul Gandhi to the office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against him being summoned in the National Herald case. But will this help the party get the support of the masses to attempt winning back power, especially when the central issue is corruption?

Such big-scale protests by the Congress or other opposition parties have been missing, for instance, when bulldozers have been running in Uttar Pradesh, including in Prayagraj on Sunday, an issue that has offended minorities who believe they are being targeted. Congress’s incharge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, did not even tweet regarding this.

Asaduddin Owaisi has been championing the voice of protest against the bulldozers and minority hate, stealing a march over the Congress. Similarly, such large-scale street protests by the Congress have been missing lately over the issue of inflation and price rise, an issue that bothers the common man. The party last launched a drive on the matter in March.

The presence of the top leadership of the Congress on both these issues has been mostly on social media rather than on the streets. In contrast, the entire party coming out on the streets when its de-facto leader is summoned in a corruption case may not work amongst the public in the same manner as the Congress envisions and could be counterproductive on a few counts.

The public mood is already against dynastic politics and the UPA was voted out of power on the issue of corruption. Rallying on the streets for Rahul Gandhi for this cause shows the party is still stuck in the old dynastic era, instead of letting him face the law in a respectful manner. The events could reinforce the view that the Congress only cares for the Gandhis.

That said, the ham-fisted approach to not allowing peaceful protests or sit-ins and deploying heavy police force to impede the same gives strength to the Congress argument that the government does not tolerate dissent. With its top leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul summoned by the ED, the party had a political opportunity to smell a plot and make noise about it.

It’s only that the protests may not go down well with the common people when they have problems of their own.

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