Uddhav’s Hindutva plank making Cong uneasy

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2

Irreconcilable aspects of the newly formed Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine are beginning to reflect themselves with the grand old Congress Party appearing particularly lost.

A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced his unwillingness to abandon the Hindutva bandwagon, an anxious Congress attempted to downplay the development. Officially the party did not even take the question on Thackeray’s reiteration of the majoritarian Hindutva ideology.

“On a day when the whole country is pained at what has happened to a girl in Hyderabad and Parliament has remained engaged on the issue we don’t even want to take up this question. It is of no consequence today,” Congress spokesperson Ami Yagnik, a Rajya Sabha MP, said.

Privately, however, Congress leaders voiced their unease over the goings on with one senior member of the party saying, “Let Uddhav Thackeray define his Hindutva first.”

Another Congress veteran seemed to draw comfort in the tricky situation by saying “We are all Hindus. What’s the problem with what Uddhav Thackeray has said? After all, he has not denounced other religions. He has already committed himself to secularism. He believes in the Constitution.”

However, a section of party veterans who were against the alliance with Sena today said Congress would need to be prepared to handle the Thackeray led party for what it is — an aggressive form of BJP.

“The Congress alignment with the Sena is odd and essentially incompatible with all that the party has ever stood for — liberalism, pluralism, secularism, inclusion, tolerance. Difficult days of the alliance are only starting,” said a senior Congress leader who added that the party’s principal task should have been the advancement of Nehruvian legacy and not merely keeping the BJP out by aligning with an even more militant form of the saffron party, the Sena.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has meanwhile personally been low key about Maharashtra since the installation of the three party alliance government there and has consciously decided to wait and watch how the common minimum programme unfolds.

For now the Congress strategists continue to argue that Thackeray would need to appeal to his majority Hindutva base and will need to make public voices about it.

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