Patna unity fizzles as Congress shuns AAP, CPM arrests KPCC chief

Ironically, just hours before this dramatic turn of events, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge shared the stage in Patna, seemingly immersed in a spirit of bonhomie

| Updated: 23 June, 2023 11:15 pm IST

ERNAKULAM/PATNA: The fleeting camaraderie displayed by the top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and Congress, as they indulged in a meal of litti choka and Gulab Jamun at the mega Opposition meet in Patna in the run-up to the 2024 General Elections, hosted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, now stands exposed as a hollow gesture against the BJP’s supremacy.

The abrupt disintegration of this shockingly short-lived unity was triggered by the arrest of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, K. Sudhakaran, by the Kerala Crime Branch. Swift to respond, the Congress party wasted no time in accusing the Pinarayi Vijayan administration of employing autocratic tactics, clearly aimed at “tarnishing the reputation of their resolute leaders”. Sudharakarn has been released on bail.

LDF vs UDF, knives are out

Congress took to its official Twitter handles to vehemently oppose the arrest. Their message left no room for ambiguity, stating, “We firmly assert that we shall not be intimidated by such autocratic tactics aimed at tarnishing the reputation of our resolute leaders. We will respond to the wrongdoings of the CPI(M) through the judicial system and the will of the people.”

The party has decided to observe June 24th as a ‘Black Day’ and hold protests across the state, alleging that the LDF government is trying to attack opposition leaders and arraign them in false cases to divert attention from the allegations against the higher education department regarding fake examination certificates and the arrest of former SFI leader Vidya.

READ MORE: Opposition parties’ Patna meeting sets stage for 2024

In a scathing attack, the Congress party even drew a parallel between Pinarayi Vijayan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, denouncing the Kerala Chief Minister as an unworthy ally. “Pinarayi stands exposed by copying Modi’s autocratic and undemocratic tactics and engaging in single-window corruption. He and his party have proven themselves to be unworthy allies in the fight against fascist rule in the country.”

Ironically, just hours before this dramatic turn of events, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge shared the stage in Patna, seemingly immersed in a spirit of bonhomie

KPCC chief K Sudhakaran was arrested after hours of questioning by the vigilance in connection with a cheating case, where fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal is the first accused. The KPCC chief was later released on bail.

The Crime Branch decided to interrogate the KPCC president based on statements from complainants who claimed they had handed over money to Monson Mavunkal in the presence of K Sudhakaran, resulting in their financial loss.

Earlier, the agency had submitted an additional report to the court in Ernakulam, arraigning Sudhakaran as an accused in the case.

The issue snowballed into a political controversy when images of Mavunkal, along with Sudhakaran, emerged. Sudhakaran stated that he had visited Mavunkal’s residence for treatment, as the latter claimed to be a trained cosmetologist.

After securing bail in the cheating case, KPCC chief K Sudhakaran stated that he does not plan to go into hiding out of fear of punishment.

“They interrogated me in the case. I can’t disclose the details because it is sub judice. I have faith in the judiciary. The probe team cannot prove the charges against me as there is no evidence. I’m not worried about the case. I’m very confident,” said K Sudhakaran to the media.

Second blow in a single day

This setback in opposition unity marks the second blow on the day of the highly anticipated Opposition meet of “like-minded” parties. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), determined to rally all opposition parties against the Centre’s ordinance that weakens its control over Delhi’s bureaucracy, had issued a stern warning that they would disrupt the meeting unless Congress committed to joining forces in defeating the ordinance when it is presented in Parliament.

“Until Congress denounces the Black Ordinance and commits its 31 Rajya Sabha MPs to oppose it, AAP will not participate in meetings with Congress. It’s time for Congress to choose between the people of Delhi and the Modi government,” read the press note from AAP regarding the Patna meet. However, AAP eventually attended the meeting.

READ MORE: Opposition leaders converge in Patna for strategy to dethrone Modi

Fifteen opposition parties convened in Patna today to chart a roadmap for a formidable anti-BJP front ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The meeting was followed by a joint press conference lasting 30 minutes. However, in light of the recent turn of events, a pressing question arises: How will these parties manage to navigate the delicate balance between their regional rivalries and their overarching national ambitions?

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