It is not every day that the Congress has asked all its MPs to remain in Delhi and not make dash for their homes during the Parliament’s weekend break. In fact, all of them – the paltry 44 in Lok Sabha and the sizeable 67 of Rajya Sabha – have been asked to report at the AICC headquarters by 1 AM.
Well tomorrow is not any other day. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son and party deputy Rahul have to appear before the Patiala House court at 3 PM in the National Herald case. The party initially planned to turn the court appearance into a media spectacle.
There was a plan to summon all its chief ministers and state party chiefs, Working Committee members and office bearers to Delhi. The Youth Congress wanted to bring in hundreds of its workers and take out bring a solidarity parade. However the plans have been shelved after it felt there should be no move which could antagonize the court in any way.
So there will be no solidarity march or media spectacle. Perhaps a silent walk by all its MPs and senior leaders to the Patiala House court may still happen. There is palpable tension in the party although leaders have said the Gandhis and others will avail of all legal remedies, which include taking bail if need arises. But the speculation that they would not take bail refuses to die down.
Sonia has famously invoked her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, who had to make several court appearances and faced arrests after she was ousted from power post-Emergency. Indira, a sharp political mind, had famously used her court appearances and arrest to revive her political career projecting herself a victim facing persecution at the hands of the Janata government.
But, party leaders admit, Sonia is no Indira. And India 2016 is not India 1977. That is why perhaps the party wants to avoid a tamasha. In a rare move, it made a rare public appeal yesterday asking its leaders and workers not to come to the national capital on Saturday. The attempt was to send out a message that it was not making the court appearance a media spectacle.