The Congress Party under the Gandhi’s seems to suffer from a puerile mindset regarding its claim over its past leaders and heritage.
First, it forgets its own stalwarts in the freedom movement and particularly those who preceded the Indira Gandhi era. Its degree of amnesia is directly proportional to its obsession with the current leadership of Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka and even extending to Robert Vadra at times. But when others, especially its political rivals, choose to celebrate the forgotten heroes, the Congress cries foul – “Look, they are hijacking our leaders!”
This has happened in the case of Sardar Patel and then Dr B R Ambedkar. The party accuses BJP and BSP of ‘usurping’ Congress heritage for electoral gains. This is a typical childish mentality. While finding no use for some toys, the child would still be averse to part with them and let other children use them.
The Congress suffers memory loss also regarding scores of others like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, and K Kamaraj. But you can trust the party to come running to claim ‘ownership’ over these leaders if it politically suits them anytime in the future.
The party’s latest instance of amnesia, surprisingly, was over Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant on his 128th birth anniversary that fell on September 10. It is surprising because, Pant was the strongman of undivided, now poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and a close associate of Nehru. And to think Rahul Gandhi was in the state too in the thick of his campaign to shore up the sagging Congress prospects! Did the thought of Pant ever cross his mind?
Congress which is normally quick to see prospects of electoral gains in any given situation seems to have ignored the fact that UP is going to polls next year and where rival parties are busy engaging in ‘social engineering’ – trying to get the votes of every caste and community. Brahmins are particularly sought after this time by SP and BSP who are trying to wean them away from their natural constituency – BJP. And the Pants are Brahmins.
The Congress leadership at the Centre is not known to have organised any function in memory of GB Pant at its AICC headquarters in Delhi. At least there was no news report of any such event. What was more, the Congress leaders, at least the top ones, have given a miss to the memorial function organised by the central government.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu along with BJP patriarch LK Advani paid floral tributes at the statue of Pant near Parliament House. The Vice-President was received by Ila Pant, former MP and daughter-in-law of Pandit Pant, at the ceremony. Ansari said that Pandit Pant was “a towering figure of the freedom movement” who served with “distinction as Home Minister of India and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh”. Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay, Advani’s daughter Pratibha Advani, and several other dignitaries, too, attended the function. There was no report of any Congress leaders attending the function.
The Congress government of Chief Minister Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand placed a simple advertisement in some newspapers on Pant’s birth anniversary. The Pants, incidentally hail from the hill state. Also, Members of the Pahadi Mahasabha paid tributes at the bust of the leader in Hardwar.
Pt Pant was born at Khooth village in Almora district in1887. He became the Chief Minister of the joint province of northern states on September 10,1946. He was also close to Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel. He was jailed several times for his active participation in the Indian freedom struggle.
In Lucknow, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and governor Ram Naik, a prominent BJP leader, attended a function to celebrate Pant’s birth anniversary. There was no report of any Congress leader attending the function.
Does Congress amnesia stem from the fact that members of the Pant family – from the late KC Pant, son of GB Pant, to Ms. Ila Pant, have moved away from the Congress to the saffron party?
Is the grand old party not cutting its own nose to spite its face?