NEW DELHI: Within days of breaking ranks with the Congress on the issue of backing NDA's presidential nominee, the Janata Dal (U) today asked why has the Congress remained silent on lynchings, or deaths of farmers in Mandsaur last month.
While some individual Congressmen and party spokespersons have been railing against the BJP on the issue of lynchings and mob violence in sundry TV debates, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) today flagged the Congress' silence as a political party on these issues.
"If the Congress is so keen on opposition unity, why has the party not taken a lead on the issue of Junaid's killing? Why has a 17-party delegation not been planned to go to Junaid's village?" JD (U)'s spokesperson and seasoned politician K C Tyagi today said during a live TV debate even as Congress' Manish Tewari, the former Union Minister, listened.
"It has been almost a month that the Mandsaur incident happened (in which six protesting farmers were shot dead). Why is Congress not picking up this issue and turning it into a major movement," Tyagi said.
As Tyagi was responding to questions about JD(U) breaking ranks with the Congress on the issue of putting up a united candidate of the Opposition, his stance on Junaid rattled not just Tewari but senior Congressmen across the country.
At a time when BJP is trying to project itself as a Dalit-friendly party by putting up a dalit politician and dyed-in-the-wool RSS man Ram Nath Kovind, Congress is losing one after the other opportunity to set the agenda for India's political narrative, a point Tyagi made repeatedly.
"Merely being reactive in its agenda will not help. The choice of Meira Kumar as its candidate was also reactive. The Congress should have told us that they had Meira Kumar's name in mind, but they did not share even this much. There was no consultation. When Kovind's name was announced, Nitish Kumar explained to Congress leadership that he will find it difficult to oppose a Dalit who is also Bihar's governor and someone who has not overstepped his gubernatorial boundaries," Tyagi said.
But it was his remark about the Congress' lethargy on the issue of lynchings that flagged the Grand Old Party's failure to rise to the occasion.
"If the Congress is so keen on opposition unity, why has it not taken a lead on the issue of Junaid's killing? Why has a 17-party delegation not been planned to go to Junaid's village?" -- JD (U) spokesperson K C Tyagi
After JD (U) leaders taking exception to senior Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad's remarks against Nitish Kumar, Manish Tewari thought it prudent to duck Tyagi's piercings jibes about Congress' silence on lynchings, Junaid and Mandsaur, and merely expressed the hope that JD(U) will rethink its stance on extending support to NDA's presidential nominee Kovind.
Meanwhile, further vindicating accusations of being slow off the block, Congress failed to react in any significant fashion to arrests and later release of dalit activists from Lucknow's Press Club. The dalit activists had gathered for a seminar on atrocities against dalits and remedial measures, but police said they had not taken permission for their protest.