Updated: August 27, 2021 9:48:17 am
Former union minister and senior leader of the Congress party, P Chidambaram on Thursday said that there was no rebellion in the Congress party in Punjab and Chhattisgarh. “There is no rebellion in Chhattisgarh. There is no rebellion in Punjab. You’re perhaps mixing up Afghanistan. These are internal matters which are discussed within the party. Did you describe the Karnataka change of guard as a rebellion?” Chidambaram said in Panaji.
Chidambaram, who was earlier this month appointed as senior AICC Election Observer to Goa to oversee election strategies and coordination for the upcoming legislative assembly polls in the state, arrived in Goa on Wednesday for a two-day visit.
“The task before us is to get the party battle-ready for the elections early next year. My initial assessment is that the political atmosphere is extremely favourable to the Congress party. By all accounts, including accounts which I read in the media, there is an expectation that there will be a change in the government and a new government led by the Congress party will be formed after the elections,” Chidambaram said at the International Centre Goa in Dona Paula.
Chidambaram’s visit comes at a time when the Congress in Goa has also seen its share of turmoil. Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar had earlier offered to resign after the party’s poor performance in local body elections and senior leaders in the party, some of whom also met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in July, had also been critical of Chodankar’s leadership in the state. Asked if Chodankar was likely to be replaced, Chidambaram said, “I am not here to replace anyone by myself anyway. These are organisational matters, which are discussed and decided at the appropriate time and that is not my agenda. As I said, my agenda is only to get the party battle-ready.”
Chidambaram said that the Congress party was confident of winning all 40 seats in the state and said that no alliance with any other political party was discussed. “That (alliance) is not the mandate now. Those are matters that will be discussed, if necessary, at the appropriate time,” Chidambaram said. He, however, also said that if any leaders of other political parties wished to meet him, they would be welcome to. “I like meeting people,” he added.
In the 40-members Goa legislative assembly, the Congress was reduced to five MLAs after ten of its legislators defected to the BJP in 2019. “Yes, from time to time, there have been occasions when a few people in which the party trusted have betrayed the party. I am not denying that. The Congress party’s history and the record is history and record that is far richer and far wider than these occasional betrayals,” Chidambaram said.
He said, “A disappointed voter is disappointed when a Congress candidate crosses over but in the last four-and-a-half years he is even more disappointed with the performance of the present (Goa) government. He is even more disillusioned by the failure of the present government. So that voter is our natural voter. We only have to assure him, as I am assuring now, that we will present a set of candidates who are loyal, faithful to the ideology and policies of the party and who will serve the best interest of the people of Goa.”
“Every decision concerning elections will be taken in consultation with block constituency active members so we will go by views of the active members of that constituency.”
Chidambaram said, “There are ways in which tourism can be revived. There are ways in which mining can be revived without affecting the environment…..We can address the sharp dip in tourism and the practical closure of mining can be addressed in scientific and acceptable ways. The present government (in Goa) is incompetent to address it.”
He also said that India’s economy was at its lowest ebb. “If you slide, say, ten steps and you climb three steps, you are not at the pre-pandemic level. You have to climb back ten steps. That is not going to happen in 2021-22, it may happen in 2022-23 but then, everything will depend upon how many foolish decisions this (central) government will take. Demonetisation was a foolish decision, the flawed GST was a foolish decision, the refusal to give cash doles to the poorest 20-25 per cent of India during the pandemic was the most foolish decision to be taken. The refusal to increase public expenditure in the year of the pandemic was a very foolish decision. And the day before yesterday they’ve announced another foolish decision namely that India’s assets will be monetised which is another euphemism for given away. For what? For 1.5 lakh crore a year? Therefore, recovery in 2021-22 will not take us back to the pre-pandemic level. Recovery in 2022-23 may take us back to the pre-pandemic level provided that this government does not take any more foolish decisions.”