November 3, 2019 8:05:44 pm
Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee President Rameshwar Oraon took over the reins of the party in September. A 1972 batch IPS officer who resigned from his service in 2004 and joined the Congress party, he says that “groupism” in the Congress remains a challenge and that leaders in the state need to serve the party “selflessly and voluntarily”. He also talks about his discussion with the central leadership to not send helicopter campaigners. Edited excerpts:
Former Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajoy Kumar had written a scathing letter criticising a few state leaders including you on following your personal interest over the party’s? It also showed fissures within the state Congress.
He served me in Patna while I was the IG. I know him and he knows me well. I saved him when his name was embroiled in a fake encounter case in 1995-1996. Fissures remain in every party and it is not just the Congress. Party workers are not bound by any government rules that they would not speak. Till the time there is internal democracy in the party, fissures would remain. But it should not be visible outside the party.
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But in the letter Ajoy Kumar also wrote that the workers were more loyal to the individuals than to the party? Is this a challenge now?
This is what is called groupism and it is a challenge. I have announced that I will not follow this and if there is any group that I owe my allegiance to it is the Congress party, nobody else. I don’t need any loyalty from any group and I work for the party headed by Sonia Gandhi. Also, there will be no one to weep in case I leave the party, because I will command no loyalty. The party needs our services and it should be selfless and voluntary. Then only party will move forward. I am bringing certain changes like giving a party position to persons on merit. So there will be no question of loyalty.
What were structural changes made in the party recently and is it a robust system? What is the concern of lower rung workers in the Jharkhand Congress?
Apart from the President, there are zonal coordinators, constituency prabharis and the district and block level presidents. Most importantly there are booth committees which are formed which is core to winning the elections. These were made before the LS elections. But I cant vouch for its robustness and if it becomes strong then we have a fair chance. The time is less, but we are doing it. The workers on ground share concern about MLAs not being accessible, but it is across all parties. But at least I have made myself accessible to everyone.
Of all the management, why hasn’t the alliance and the seat sharing among the opposition parties made public?
It is part of our strategy and I cannot talk about it at this stage. During the Lok Sabha Polls the opposition had agreed on certain things and we continuing it. We should not forget the ground realities.
After the results of Maharashtra and Haryana came out, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said that the Congress did not fight with their “full might” and had “defeatist mindset”. What is the situation in Jharkhand?
It is correct, but the situation in Jharkhand is different. BJP has misruled the state and it will reflect in the elections. We will fight will full might. We are trying our best and we have discussed with the central leadership that please give us some leaders who will move around in cars and camp in Jharkhand. We have discussed not to send leaders who come from helicopters which will be attended by only 200 people and a lot of money is also spent. Please bring Congress leaders from all around the states and do not send one or two leaders. They will move around villagers.
What are the star campaigners that you have asked from the central leadership?
Aap bada naam dekar kisi ko bhi bhej dijiye aur usko koi dekhne bhi nahi aaye, to kya fayda. Isliye maine kaha ki wo neta bhejiye jo gaaon gaaon ghoome. (You send big names in politics and if people don’t even come to see them, then what is the point. That is why I have discussed to send those who can roam around in the villages).
But the opposition stand on issue based politics has not been very clear, be it lynching, or food scarcity in the remote areas among others.
The opposition parties is are educating people on the misrule of the government and people are dissatisfied. If we all come together in one platform, then this government will be toppled.
But the perception is that the opposition has till now not pitched their agenda to the people?
We are getting feedback from the people who have asked us to fight the election in alliance and warned us to not come alone. The people understand the troubles and they are not content with the present government and that they will remove them this time.
But there is also a perception about the Congress party on their infighting even after you became the President. It sends a wrong message of opposition not being in unity.
There are people who are not able to understand the party’s interests. They understand the individual interest.
Recently in an interview, CM Raghubar Das said that opposition is weak in Jharkhand. How do you respond?
The opposition is not weak and our strength is people’s will. How can even CM say that. Tod Tod ke le gaya party ko. Party ko kamzor kiya. (He weakened the party after taking away the MLAs). He took away six MLAs of Babubal Marandi’s party just after 2014 elections and recently five MLAs joined BJP, two of us were ours. In the parties it does not happen that the MLAs are invited to join the party. It is horse-trading and people join out of greed and other reasons. People gave vote to JVM(P) and felt cheated, and then they will vote for the turncoats.
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