The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM warns Cong on soft Hindutva

New Delhi, Dec. 26: The CPM high command has warned the Congress against “repeating” its Gujarat strategy of soft-Hindutva campaigning during Assembly polls next year.

“It is certain if the Congress repeats this line in the coming Assembly elections, it will have nothing but sheer humiliation in store for it,” CPM general-secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet has written in the latest issue of People’s Democracy, the CPM mouthpiece.

The Gujarat poll — that gave the BJP a landslide victory and pushed the Congress to a poor second — buttressed the CPM’s oft repeated allegation that the Congress is trying to be the BJP’s “B” team, Surjeet writes.

The CPM leader, in the lead article on Gujarat polls, writes: “As the CPM has pointed out, instead of taking communal forces head on in Gujarat, the Congress underplayed the communal agenda and thereby helped communal forces legitimise their disruptive campaign.”

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in an interview yesterday, had taunted the Congress for using religion and Hindutva for electoral gains.

After touting itself as secular for 364 days, the Congress suddenly turned religious and started the poll campaign with a puja at Gujarat’s Ambaji temple, Vajpayee said.

After criticising the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for failing to thrash out a seat-sharing agreement in the run-up to the Gujarat polls, Surjeet is now publicly venting anger against the Congress for not taking a stand on BJP’s communalism.

According to the CPM leadership, they had anticipated a BJP victory in Gujarat but not the scale on which it won.

The CPM had earlier declared that the Gujarat polls would decide the course of national politics. Now that the BJP has romped home with a huge margin, the CPM leadership is piling blame on the main Opposition party.

The Congress should first set its house in order, the CPM has said. “Some of its state governments, such as that in Rajasthan, are already facing mass discontent because of their LPG policies,” Surjeet writes. Rajasthan goes to polls early next year.

“If this course is not reversed, only communal forces will exploit this discontent. The Congress will do well to ponder why the BJP won all the three seats in the by-elections in Rajasthan.”

The Congress’s alliance with the pro-extremist Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, too, has come in for harsh criticism from the CPM.

“This has also put a big question mark on the Congress’s credentials as a nationalist, secular party,” Surjeet writes.

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