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Mudda discusses timing of Congress presidential election, wants party to continue with its secular agenda instead of developing a neo-Hindu image

Just two days before the final verdict of the Gujarat assembly elections, the Congress announced Rahul Gandhi as its president. Will he be able to restore the party’s image? Saturday’s edition of the Mudda discussed the issue. Moderated by Anant Tyagi, the guests were CPI leader Ameer Haider Zaidi, Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput, Ashwini Upadhyay, national president of the BJP, political expert Haseeb Siddique and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju.

Today’s Mudda was dominated by a verbal war between the leaders of the political parties. They blamed each other of playing politics of religion.

Ameer Haider Zaidi started the debate by congratulating the Congress for its new president. He said: “I hope now that Rahul Gandhi has become the president, he will come out the Hindutvavadi mode and play secular politics. Whenever the Congress tried to play the religion card it cost them hugely. The nation does not have any religion. So a party should not have one. We have high hopes in Rahul Gandhi. He brings new hopes to the party and the people of this country.”

Surendra Rajput defended his party and said it is one the country’s most secular parties. He said: “We are secular. We welcome people from every religion in the party. We don’t play the religion card. We don’t talk about a person’s religion while working for the country. But if the party’s work is hindered due to some issue related to religion then we do look into it.”

Ashwini Upadhyay brought the attention to the verdict of the coal scam case today. He noted: “Madhu Koda was awarded three years jail by a special court today. The coal scam was given to us by the Congress. India’s political parties are suffering from five things that are killing it like cancer—corruption, criminalisation, dynasty politics, caste politics and populism. And you can find all of them in the Congress party.” This led to a war of words between Upadhyay and Rajput. The anchor stopped them and brought the discussion back to the topic.

Govind Pant Raju said: “The president election was according to the deadline given by the Election Commission. We should not link it to the Gujarat elections. What is important here is how Gandhi will lead the party now. The way he tried to unite the people of Gujarat before the assembly elections is much appreciated. He had a reputation of a failed leader as he often fled in the middle of a crisis. Take for instance his going abroad right in the middle of the farmers’ agitation in Madhya Pradesh which he was leading. But this time he stayed till the end and really put up a great fight before the BJP in Gujarat. Now, the question will be, how he is going to bring Congress out of its new Hindutvavadi image.

Compiled by Usha Rani Das

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