Armed With ‘Aggressive’ Cadre, Focus on Aam Aadmi, Congress Set for Aug 5 Protest. Will ED Play Party-Pooper?

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The Congress headquarters in Delhi is teeming with people. Big ‘shamianas’ and chairs are being brought in and snacks being prepared. The last time the premises saw such elaborate arrangements was when Rahul Gandhi was taking charge from Sonia Gandhi as party president. And no, this preparation is not for Rahul Gandhi’s return as president, but the big day on August 5 when the Grand Old Party has planned pan-India protests against price rise and new GST rates.

ED May Divert Attention?

While the Congress is busy setting the stage, the top brass feels the Enforcement Directorate — which is quizzing Sonia Gandhi and her son in the National Herald case — could be the party-pooper.

At a late-night meeting, Congress leaders said it was time to “brace for the fact that the BJP would do something which will derail the purpose of our protests”. This “something”, according to the Congress, is the possibility of ED officials entering either the party’s head office or the residence of the Gandhis.

In such a situation, the Congress would be forced to shift its focus to the Gandhis and this is where the issue becomes a double-edged sword. The Congress, but naturally, cannot desist from protests if its president is “targeted”. But, at the same time, they will end up playing into the BJP narrative that the Congress hits the streets only when the Gandhis are targeted.

In such a situation, Rahul Gandhi has told his party colleagues to connect the dots and issues. Outside his home, Rahul Gandhi was belligerent when he said: “We won’t be cowed down, we won’t learn nationalism from the RSS. We are not scared of the ED.”

The Gandhis and other top leaders of the Congress feel this could be the moment where it could connect with the people by striking the issues of price rise and GST and ‘gheraoing’ the prime minister’s house and Rashtrapati Bhavan to make their point.

The Congress knows very well that their leaders are likely to be detained when they ‘gherao’ PM Narendra Modi’s residence but that is part of the plan.

As leaders hit the streets to protest against price rise, the narrative will be simple — “We are not scared of Narendra Modi. We will do our work. We will protect harmony. This is our job and let them do anything they want.”

For the BJP, the sight of posters condemning ED action against the Gandhis is fodder that the Grand Old Party is all about the Gandhis.

For Congress, the plan for August 5 is to galvanise an aggressive cadre and keep focus on the ‘aam aadmi’. But will a possible ED visit derail this focus? Only time will tell.

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