There is a reason why Rahul decided to lead a delegation to northeast Delhi — to show the Congress with zero seats in the national capital took the initiative at a time when BJP and AAP leaders chose to stay away.
It was at a meeting in the Central Hall of Parliament on Wednesday where, among other issues, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi discussed how the Narendra Modi government was not allowing a discussion on the Delhi riots.
Soon after, a decision was taken to make the point by directly reaching out to people. It was also decided that a small delegation of party leaders would visit some violence-hit areas.
The team was carefully selected — K Suresh and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were chosen as leaders of the Lok Sabha, KC Venugopal as organisation in-charge, Randeep Surjewala as communications in-charge, and Kumari Shelja to reach out to women victims.
The Congress said Rahul was denied permission to visit the riot-affected area following which he decided to go to Brijpura. This was a carefully made choice as, sources say, he didn’t want to stoke a controversy and also wanted to get the political nuance right by visiting a school.
Sources also say he was moved after the visit and told his colleagues “what has the country come to?”
Rahul has been criticised by the BJP leadership for politicising the communal riots. Hours after the visit, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the grand old party, which has a legacy (of instigating) over 5,000 riots, is provoking political tourism.
Naqvi accused Rahul of Provoking “political tourism to disturb peace and harmony”, tweeting that “peace and Harmony should be our priority and not provocative political propaganda”.
“Provoking Political Tourism” to disturb Peace & Harmony….. Peace & Harmony should be our priority not “Provocative Political Propaganda”.. “Brand New Politics” over unfortunate riots by “Grand Old Party” which has a “Legacy” of over 5000 riots.
— Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (@naqvimukhtar) March 4, 2020
However, there is a reason why Rahul decided to lead a delegation to northeast Delhi — to show that the Congress, with zero seats in the national capital, took the initiative at a time when BJP and AAP leaders chose to stay away.
Also, focus on the silence of Home Minister Amit Shah. In fact, the Congress has been demanding the resignation of Shah, whose ministry is in charge of law and order in Delhi, since the riots broke out last week. A cue was set by the party’s interim president, Sonia Gandhi, at a press conference she addressed last week over the riots.
And, for Rahul, it is a part of his single-minded focus to repeat his stand that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is divisive and the BJP follows the mindset of its parent organisation.
However, a section in the Congress is worried about the message put across through the visit. “This will be in contradiction to our efforts to project our party with soft Hindutva leanings,” said a Congress functionary.