As Old Faces Leave Congress, Kanhaiya, Jignesh Are 'Icons of Hope' on Anti-Modi Side, Says Expert
Over the past two years, many young Congress members, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushmita Dev, Jitin Prasada, Priyanka Chaturvedi, and Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, have left the party for a variety of reasons.
Independent Gujarat state lawmaker, Jignesh Mevani, and Communist Party of India (CPI) member, Kanhaiya Kumar, have joined the main Indian opposition party, Congress, in the presence of senior leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
Congress believes that the former activists who have become politicians and are aged below 40, can help to attract younger voters in the party's home states of Gujarat and Bihar.
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani burst into the limelight in 2016 after he led massive protests against the rising number of assaults committed by Hindu groups against Dalits in Gujarat. Since then, he has spearheaded several demonstrations supporting Dalits and minorities in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat.
A year later, in 2017, with the support of Congress, Mevani won the Vadgam constituency in Banaskantha district from BJP incumbent Vijaykumar Chakravarti, by almost 20,000 votes. He is likely to play a prominent role in 2022's assembly elections.
BJP has governed the state since 1998. Narendra Modi served three terms as state chief from 2001 until 2014 when he resigned to take over as prime minister of India. In the 2017 Gujarat election, the BJP's share of the 182 assembly seats dropped below 100 for the first time since 1998.
Kanhaiya Kumar, a 34-year-old youth leader, has been one of the dominant faces in the political sphere since 2016 despite the fact that he faces a charge of sedition, with the case pending. His charge is the result of his having allegedly permitted - while he was president of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students' Union - unknown people to organise a programme on the campus which included anti-India slogans. He had denied all allegations.
Known for his oratorical skills, Kumar joined the Communists in 2019 before the national election and he unsuccessfully ran for the Begusarai constituency in Bihar state against Giriraj Singh of BJP.
"[Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar] are icons of hope for anti-Modi politics which opposition parties failed to provide. They catered to millennials, not just in the cities but beyond, reaching out to Dalits, farmers, minorities, poor and backward castes," Abid Shah, a political analyst, told Sputnik.
"How far they will take the party and how they evolve as a fulcrum of a new style of politics remains to be seen," Shah added.
Over the past few years, prominent party members, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushmita Dev, Jitin Prasada, Priyanka Chaturvedi Luizinho Faleiro, and Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, have left the Indian National Congress (INC).
Their resignations have caused consternation within the party.
"In Indian politics, the election is a season of migratory birds. Leaders leave one party and join the others - it happens everywhere. In 1969, when Congress lost its first presidential election, the party split in two. Similarly, in 1977, after an emergency, more than two-thirds of Congress leaders left the party. Both times, angry, disgruntled leaders blamed Indira Gandhi [grandmother of the present Congress leader, Rahul] and left the party for better opportunities. Surprisingly, this didn't happen immediately after 2014, but, over time many senior members have left the party," Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst, told Sputnik.
Hence, the two politicians "joining Congress should be seen as as logical step" rather than "looking at this development in a very partisan manner".