Jairam Ramesh. Photo: PTI/File
Kollam: The Congress, which has been facing criticism from the CPI(M) over the route of its 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' and the time it was spending in Kerala, on Thursday took a dig at the Left party over its leaders proposed foreign trip, saying they are engaged in Europe Jodo Yatra.
Jairam Ramesh, AICC general secretary in-charge of communications, told reporters here: "Ours is Bharat Jodo Yatra and not Europe Jodo Yatra which some parties that criticise Congress party are engaged in right now."
The senior Congress leader did not stop there, his attack on CPI(M), and went on to call it the 'A' team of the BJP, again referred to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as 'Mundu Modi' and said both of them, in Kerala, were identical.
"CPI(M) in Kerala is the 'A' team of BJP. In terms of ideology and management style, there is no difference between the Chief Minister of Kerala and the Prime Minister of India. They are identical. I have described the CM of Kerala as Mundu Modi. He is Mundu Modi. There is no difference between the two. They both don't listen, both have made up their minds. In Kerala, CPI(M) and BJP are two sides of the same coin," he said in his no-holds-barred attack on the Left party.
"In fact, CPI(M) allied with the BJP in 1989 to defeat the Congress," he said and added that if the Left party wants to support the Congress, it is welcome to do so.
"But, this yatra is not for opposition unity. It is for strengthening the Congress and without Congress, you cannot have an opposition unity. It is the only party which has never allied with BJP.
"So far, everyone has been trying to weaken the Congress. We will not allow it to happen. In Kerala, CPI(M) is doing its best to encourage BJP and weaken the Congress," he alleged.
Ramesh did not spare the BJP either by accusing it of dividing the country for a long time.
"They (BJP) have been doing 'Bharat-Todo' for a long time. Now they are doing 'Congress-Todo' and what is happening in Goa is an example of the diversion BJP is trying to create.
"One day container, another day t-shirt, another day shoes and then Goa. They will do it everyday to divert people's attention from the yatra due to the response it is receiving," he said.
He also addressed the accusation against the Congress of avoiding BJP-ruled States like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and spending less time in Uttar Pradesh when it was devoting 18 days in Kerala, saying that the yatra was going through several States where the grand old party is fighting the saffron party.
"Yatra is going through Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana where Congress is fighting BJP. Anyone who says we are not going through States where Congress is fighting BJP does not know full details of the yatra," he said.
Another reason given by him for avoiding some States was that the yatra was north to south and geographically and taking into account security concerns, the present route was most suited for a march by foot.
Ramesh said it would take a minimum 90 days to walk from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu to Gujarat and by then elections in that State as well as Himachal Pradesh would be over.
"So, even if superman with a 56 inch chest, you know whom I am referring to, were to walk, he will take 90 days at least to reach Gujarat from Kanyakumari," he said.
On the issue of Congress not being able to retain its senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad or those like the 8 MLAs in Goa, Ramesh said two types of people are leaving the party, those who have benefitted from it and those vulnerable to central investigating agencies.
On Azad's exit from the party, Ramesh said that he was a recipient of everything from Congress.
"People will leave. But for every Ghulam Nabi Azad, there are 50 V T Balrams (KPCC vice-president) -- youngsters with political experience wedded to Congress ideology.
"So, I am not worried when such big names leave. The sooner they leave, the better," he said.
Regarding the second category of persons leaving the party, he said they are pressured to leave by the BJP by constantly attacking them though central probe agencies.
Citing the example of the Assam Chief Minister, Ramesh said that while he was with Congress he was constantly being targeted by BJP and after he joined the saffron party, they are silent now.
"There is a BJP washing machine. Everyone who goes into it, comes out spotless-white like my kurta," he said and added that it was a mistake of the Congress when it included the 8 Goa MLAs in its fold.
"They were corrupt. We made a mistake by letting them into the party," he said.
Regarding the yatra schedule for the coming days, he said September 23 would be another day of rest after marching for seven days.