Analysis: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury choice of words becomes an embarrassment for his party

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. File

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. File   | Photo Credit: PTI


He is chosen to lead Congress in Lok Sabha because of his ability to put up a fight against political odds

The Lok Sabha had for two consecutive days witnessed the rare sight of the Treasury benches leading protests during proceedings when BJP leaders demanded an apology from Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

On Tuesday, they added Nirmala Sitharaman to the list as Mr. Chowdhury had referred to her as ‘Nirbala’ or a weak Finance Minister.

The protest on Monday was triggered by the Congress leader’s remark that both Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah could be considered as ‘infiltrator’ as they are now living in Delhi though they have their residences in Gujarat.

The Congress leader repeated on the floor of the House what he had said in a soundbyte to a television news agency on Sunday. In doing so, he forgot what he, along with other parliamentarians, had decided — while debating BJP MP Pragya Thakur’s controversial comments on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin — that comments made outside the House should not be a matter of debate inside.

He also seemed to have walked straight into the trap laid out by his opponents. When Mr. Chowdhury got up to ask Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan a supplementary question, BJP members kept shouting ‘infiltrator’.

“Yes, I am an infiltrator, I am a ‘deemak’ [termite]. Modi is an infiltrator. Amit Shah is an infiltrator. L.K. Advani is an infiltrator,” the Congress leader retorted after being provoked.

His comments were in the context of his party’s opposition to have a National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country on the lines of the one prepared in Assam.

But, clearly, the Congress leader mixed up internal migration with external and ended up describing the Prime Minister and the Home Minister as ‘outsiders’.

To be fair, Mr. Chowdhury is not the only one guilty of such a mix up. When BJP chief in Delhi Manoj Tiwari was advocating an NRC for Delhi, leaders of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) said Mr. Tiwari would be left out too as he is from Bihar.

But for Mr. Chowdhury, the mix up proved to be costly as the BJP got an opportunity to raise Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign origins” on the floor of the House that would now be part of the official records.

Mr. Chowdhury was Ms. Gandhi’s choice to lead the party in the Lok Sabha, passing over more articulate members like Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, simply because of his ability to put up a fight against the political odds.

After all, he has been winning his Berhampore seat for five terms against the Trinamool and the growing challenge by the BJP. At an all party meeting, Mr. Modi had lauded his abilities and described him as a “real fighter”.

But the choice of words of the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, who de facto functions as the Leader of the Opposition, is proving to be an embarrassment for his party.

During the debate on Article 370 on August 6, he ended up asking if India could describe Kashmir as “purely internal matter” since the borders were monitored by the United Nations since 1948.

When an annoyed Ms. Gandhi looked towards him in disbelief, he rephrased his sentence as if he was seeking a clarification.

While articulation may not be a strong point of Mr. Chowdhury, it is a function he is expected to perform on behalf of the entire Opposition in the Lower House.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 10:53:18 AM |

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