Amid a series of departures from the Congress, party leader Rahul Gandhi has said that leaders who are like Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former Union Minister Milind Deora should part ways with the party, as they do not align with its ideology.
Mr. Sarma, who had defected to the BJP in 2014, is now the Chief Minister of Assam, while Deora joined the Shiv Sena headed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde last month.
Addressing the party’s ‘Digital Media Warriors’ in West Bengal on Thursday night, Mr. Gandhi emphasised his commitment to defending the principles upheld by the Congress.
“I want people like Himanta [Biswa Sarma] and Millind [Deora] to leave. I am perfectly okay with it. Himanta represents a particular kind of politics, that’s not the politics of the Congress party,” he said.
The Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ led by Mr. Gandhi entered West Bengal from Assam on January 25. It is scheduled to reach Jharkhand on Friday.
“Have you heard some of the statements that Himanta had made about Muslims? I don’t want to have anything to do with them, as there are certain values I would like to defend,” he said.
The resignation of former Union minister and ex-MP from Mumbai South, Milind Deora, marks the latest instance of leaders exiting the Congress to embark on new political journeys, especially towards the BJP.
Mr. Sarma, who was a Minister in the then Congress government, joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh defected to the saffron party before the Assembly polls in 2022, citing personal grievances with the party’s conduct.
Notable leaders such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Hardik Patel, Sushmita Dev, and R.P.N. Singh have all severed ties with the party in recent years.
Commenting on recent assertions by BJP leaders regarding the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Mr. Gandhi denounced the legislation as a tool wielded by the BJP to foster division along religious lines.
“These are instruments for the BJP. Their basic idea is to divide the country and create tension between religious communities,” he said.
Mr. Gandhi’s remarks come in the wake of Union Minister Shantanu Thakur’s declaration on January 29 that the CAA would be enforced nationwide within a week.
Enacted by the BJP-led government at the Centre in 2019, the CAA aims to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim immigrants, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.