Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi last Tuesday paid a surprise visit to the Lok Sabha lobby where CPI (M) leaders were having a break from the sessions. What followed left the Left leaders baffled. The Gandhi scion thanked Kerala CPI (M) MP Sreemathi Teacher for ‘inspiring’ him to lead a fresh attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The leaders went on to discuss floor strategy, agreeing that there should be more cooperation between Opposition parties against the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.
Gandhi’s Lok Sabha gambit is just one aspect of the aggressive politics he has engaged in of late. His latest strategy has seen the Congress leader reaching out to other Opposition parties as well, and taking more this usual interest in strategy-making.
Former Union minister and Trinamool Congress veteran Saugata Roy is one of the Opposition leaders who frequently interacts with Gandhi. “He discussed with me almost all issues on which he was going to talk. I found him friendly and open to suggestions. Earlier, he had once asked me about reasons behind the Congress’ downfall in the last general elections,” Roy told HT.
Sources added that Gandhi also changed the dates for his Telangana tour after consulting some Opposition leaders and a few Congressmen. Initially, he had planned to begin the tour on May 12. But some Opposition leaders told Gandhi that they feel he should be present in the Parliament as the last leg of the land bill and other crucial bills were due.
Gandhi has shared his reservations on government policy with Opposition leaders. “We may have political differences among ourselves. But we all agree that this government is fundamentally wrong in its policies. We can never agree to their mindset,” a Left leader quoted him as saying.
CPI (M) leader MB Rajesh, a two-time MP from Kerala’s Palakkad district, has been a close aide of Gandhi for some time now. “Unlike earlier, he prefers to interact more with other party leaders,” Rajesh said. Gandhi had also been spotted chatting with BJD’s Tathagat Satpathy and NCP’s Supriya Sule.
While Gandhi had been actively mobilising the Opposition, he remains courteous to rival leaders. During sessions, he was once seen smiling cheerily at controversial NDA minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.