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Anil Antony quits party responsibilities amid ‘backlash’ on BBC documentary tweet

January 25, 2023 06:33 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:38 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony’s son Anil Antony speaks to the media in New Delhi on Wednesday over quitting the Congress posts a day after criticising the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony’s son Anil Antony speaks to the media in New Delhi on Wednesday over quitting the Congress posts a day after criticising the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. | Photo Credit: ANI

Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony’s son and one of the national coordinators in the social media cell of the All India Congress Committee Anil. K. Antony on Wednesday resigned from his organisational responsibilities. Mr. Antony is also convener of digital media in the State Congress.

Mr. Antony’s controversial tweet on Tuesday that the BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 Gujarart riots undermined India’s sovereignty elicited Congress leadership’s strong disapproval. It did not help Mr. Antony or the Congress that his father served as chairperson of the party’s disciplinary action committee.

Even as Mr. Antony’s controversial tweet hit the headlines, shocked Congress workers braved the ire of belligerent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists to hold public screenings of the documentary. It, however, put the party in a politically awkward position.

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee reportedly felt that the “tactless tweet” undermined the party’s fight against Sangh Parivar’s “unceasing attempts” at social silencing and systematic depluralising of India’s secular polity by denying free speech and shutting out dissenters and contrarian views from the public debate.

Youth Congress State president Shafi Parambil said Mr. Antony was patently wrong to suggest that India’s sovereignty was constitutionally moored to Mr. Modi’s political reputation.

An embattled Mr. Antony said on Wednesday that he was quitting party posts in the face of “intolerant calls to retract the tweet”. He appeared to take a swipe at the Congress’ flagship political programme, the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, by stating that people supporting “a trek to promote love” denied him the right to free speech. It was unclear to whom Mr. Antony addressed the “redacted resignation letter” posted on Twitter.

In his resignation note, he indicated that a cabal of loyalists called the shots in the Congress and meritocracy had no place in the organisation. He said somewhat damningly that he found no common ground with the leadership that “was keen to work with a bunch of sycophants and chamchas who would unquestionably be at your beck and call”.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, MP, termed Mr. Antony’s position that the BBC documentary undermined India’s sovereignty as far-fetched and immature. Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan welcomed Mr. Antony’s resignation from party posts.

Mr. A.K. Antony declined to comment.

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