Adani and his alleged proximity to the Narendra Modi government were a hot topic at the Congress plenary that began here on Friday, with revelations how Chhattisgarh’s pollution officials felt the Enforcement Directorate’s lash after inspecting the industrialist’s factories.
The disclosure came from chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, host of the plenary, a day after Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera was arrested at Delhi airport over a comment he had made that appeared to link Prime Minister Modi’s name to Gautam Adani’s.
Baghel, who personally garlanded every senior leader arriving at the plenary venue, found time to tweet in the morning: “Haseen sanyog aur behad haseen prayog (Beautiful coincidence and a very beautiful experiment)!”
He explained: “The Chhattisgarh Pollution Control Board inspects Adani’s Ambuja Cement and GMR Power and Goyal Steel on February 21. On February 22, ED raids the Pollution Control Board and locks up officials and staff for 36 hours for interrogation.”
Modi had a few years ago used the words “sanyog” and “prayog” while asking sarcastically whether the protests against the new citizenship matrix were a coincidence or a political experiment.
Earlier this week, the Enforcement Directorate had raided over a dozen premises associated with Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, the action seen as intimidatory tactics ahead of the plenary.
Against this backdrop, and with the plenary’s chief focus being next year’s general election, the Congress indicated it doesn’t want to change the narrative by drawing focus on organisational matters.
Party president Mallikarjun Kharge asked senior leaders not to miss the national picture while analysing the organisational challenges.
“As party president, I will allow you to give your frank opinion on the question of CWC (Congress Working Committee) election. Take a collective decision. Your view will be our view,” Kharge told the steering committee meeting, repeating what he had said before.
“This plenary is happening at a time when the country is facing enormous challenges. Democracy and the Constitution are in peril. Parliamentary institutions are grappling with a grave crisis. Even political activities are under surveillance. We have to consider all these facts and express our views…. The entire country is looking up to this plenary.”
Clearly concerned about internal squabbles overshadowing national issues, Kharge said: “We have an opportunity to make the Raipur (plenary) a milestone in political history and show us a way out of the current crisis. Rahul Gandhi has injected new energy into this country with his Bharat Jodo Yatra by creating awareness about the price rise, unemployment and economic inequalities. We have to sustain that momentum.”
He added: “Parliamentary elections are due after half-adozen Assembly elections this year. This is a challenge before us, as well as an opportunity. A constructive message from here can be taken by our workers to every village to win the confidence of the people.
“The decisions taken here will become the basis of strengthening the party from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. So my request to you is, focus on the issues linked to the people’s welfare. Send a clear message to the grassroots worker.”
Kharge spelled out the agenda: making several amendments to the party constitution apart from discussing resolutions on politics, the economy, international affairs, farmers and farm workers, social justice and youth empowerment.
While most of the changes to the constitution — 16 clauses and 32 rules are expected to be amended — will be in accordance with proposals made at the Udaipur conclave, the resolutions will present a comprehensive critique of Modi’s nine-year rule.
The subjects committee of the party met in the evening to weigh the resolutions, prepared by drafting committees, before they are taken up for discussion at the plenary. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul attended the meeting.