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Formula for Another Battle Within Cong

Sometimes the best way to hurt your own is to support the enemy. And that’s what senior Congress and now termed rebel leader Anand Sharma has done. In a series of tweets, Anand Sharma has praised the prime minister’s visit to the institutes that are working on Covid-19 vaccine. He tweeted, “Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for Covid-19. That alone will lift morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation.”

Anand Sharma’s praise of PM’s visit to these institutes on Saturday is in sharp contrast to the line of the Congress party, which has ridiculed the PM for visiting the vaccine institutes. The Congress called it a photo op by the prime minister and an attempt to seize credit for the work being done by the scientists.

Anand Sharma, along with 22 others, are the brain behind the letter written to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi raising doubts over the working of the party. He along with many others came under fire at a special CWC meeting called to discuss the letter. Anand, who has been very close to the Gandhis, and rose under Rajiv Gandhi was termed traitor. The fact is many senior Congress leaders like him have been feeling left out in Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and their angst is over their sidelining.

But sources close to some of these senior leaders also feel that attacking the PM over Covid-19 vaccine could once again boomerang. With virus numbers rising, the thing most people are waiting for is the vaccine. While the BJP did use the vaccine as an election tool in Bihar elections but the image of the PM as being a fighter for the vaccine has so far remained intact.

Many seniors in Congress feel that the visuals of the PM visiting the vaccine institutes and doing video-conferencing with the scientists show his desperation for the vaccine and this caters to the concern among the people as well. Criticising or ridiculing the PM on this could work against the Congress once again.

In fact, Anand Sharma among many others had raised doubts over the tone of personal attacks against the PM in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sources say they had sent feedback to Sonia that “chowkidar chor hai” slogan was not resonating with the people and that any personal attack on the PM was used by the BJP effectively to its advantage. That’s exactly what happened. In response to “chowkidar chor hai” slogan, the BJP began the hashtag “main bhi chowkidar”.

Apart from this, Anand Sharma’s tweet is also a reminder to the Congress that he and many of the dissenters can make things difficult and embarrassing for the party. Of course, many have already begun to attack him and accuse him of trying to join the BJP.

But sources close to Anand Sharma say his tweet was needed in this tough hour for the country when all political parties need to stand together. This may just be the narrative Anand Sharma and many like him want to set — that with Ahmed Patel’s absence, who acted as a bridge, it could be all knives out. And this latest tweet by Anand Sharma towing a completely different line from the party may just be the beginning of another battle within the Congress.

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