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PATNA: At a time when the Congress party is grappling with desertions of senior leaders, former Jawaharlal University Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s plan to join the party is not less than surprising for Bihar party leaders.
Putting an end to the speculations that Kanhaiya, one of the most articulate leaders and strong critic of the Narendra Modi-led BJP regime at the Centre, would not leave his original party—the Communist Party of India (CPI)—a Dalit youth leader of Gujarat and MLA Jignesh Mevani last week announced that the former JNUSU leader and he would be joining the Congress on October 28 in New Delhi.
CPI leader D Raja had, however, denied that Kanhaiya, who unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the party candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai constituency against the BJP firebrand and Union minister Giriraj Singh, would walk away. But, party insiders said that Kanhaiya’s plan to move out became apparent when he collected his belongings from the Delhi’s CPI office a couple of weeks ago.
Senior Congress leaders and JNU alumni said that youth leaders with mass following were being inducted nationally as part of the strategy suggested by poll strategist Prashant Kishore. “Moreover, the party, which is struggling to find its roots in Bihar, needed leaders like Kanhiaya to grow and help the party retrieve its lost glory,” said a leader.
Many Congress leaders said that his joining would give another chance for the party to revive its lost glory. Former BPCC chief Anil Sharma, who was also a former Patna University Students’ Union chief, said the party would benefit from Kanhaiya’s joining. “Kanhaiya Kumar has been the most articulate in raking up the issues of mass interest in a powerful way. His presence would be able to unite the anti-government voices and add strength to the fight against the fear of India slipping into dictatorship mode,” added Sharma.
A section of the Congress, however, feared that Kanhaiya might have to face the undeclared protests from the seniors, who thrive on the Congress party’s weakness and the alliance politics. “Such leaders might spoil his plans to make the party stand on its own feet and come back into the reckoning. The system in the organisation is also quite complicated, which might now allow him to be in direct touch with Rahul Gandhi or the party high. He will have to dance to the tune of party in-charge, or left to perish like many other strong leaders,” argued another senior leader.
Political analyst and former Patna University teacher Nawal Kishore Chaudhary said that the Congress would be a major gainer on the Kanhaiya’s joining. “He is one of the most influential speakers. He has the ability to convince the people. Kanhaiya will have a bigger role to play in the state as well as national politics, as the Congress had a pan-India presence,” said Chaudhary, adding that the Congress can bank on Kanhaiya as its youth face in the face of rise of Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Chirag Paswan in the state politics.
The RJD, which has not been keen to the rise of Kanhaiya Kumar in the state politics, however, did not foresee any substantial gain in electoral politics for the Congress. “He (Kanhaiya) is not any factor in caste-based politics. Allies of the RJD mostly depend on charisma of Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav to win the elections,” said Maner MLA and chief spokesman of the RJD Bhai Birendra.