With the Congress planning a major offensive against the “self-appointed representatives” of the civil society, the dominating sentiment in the party is that Rahul Gandhi should lead the counter campaign given his “appeal among the masses”. Many Congress leaders are of the opinion that the Gandhi scion has the “charisma” and “popularity” to counter the likes of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, who have been dubbed as the “masks of the BJP and the RSS”.
The party is of the considered view that Hazare and Ramdev have launched their anti-corruption campaigns at the behest of the Sangh Parivar in its attempt to destabilise the UPA and regain power at the Centre.
The Congress is now fully geared up to deal with the challenge thrown by Hazare to go on another indefinite hunger strike from August 16, if his demand for a strong lokpal bill was not met by then.
Senior leaders, including minister of state for steel Beni Prasad Verma, have suggested Gandhi should take the charge of the party’s campaign to expose “BJP-RSS-backed” Ramdev and Hazare.
“No other leader in the country apart from Rahul Gandhi carries such a mass appeal and huge popularity. He is much bigger than Ramdevs and Hazares,” Verma said.
Verma, a Kurmi (other backward caste) leader from Uttar Pradesh, had mooted the idea of the counter campaign across the country under Gandhi’s leadership at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Friday.
He was also among the leaders who spoke strongly against the government’s move to engage with the civil society.
Another senior CWC member Jagmeet Brar said Gandhi has the “credibility and charisma” and can take everybody along.
“Going by the response to his membership drive for the Youth Congress, no other leader post-independence has achieved what Rahul Gandhi has in the past few years,” he said.
Brar said Gandhi would aptly put before the people the steps taken by the UPA government to check corruption and repatriate the black money.
Meanwhile, home minister P Chidambaram said he agreed with those who wanted PM Manmohan Singh to speak on lokpal.
“Yes, I acknowledge that lots of people would like the PM to step up to the plate, so as to say, and speak more often,” he said in response to a question by NDTV.