Kerala CM criticises Congress for its nomination of Chaudhary Lal Singh from Udhampur-Doda

This move comes after the lack of finding any viable alternatives to contest for the seat against Union minister Jitendra Singh

Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala, has criticised Congress for it’s support of Chaudhary Lal Singh, their Udhampur-Doda choice, who has publicly expressed support for the accused in the Kathua rape case. Chaudhary Lal Singh, then a BJP minister for forest, had attended a rally in support of the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January 2018. He defends his participation, stating his presence there was to “defuse the situation.” 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, acting as the chief minister at the time of the case, had gotten then ally BJP to drop Lal Singh from her Cabinet over his stance. Now, with his reinductment into the party, she is campaigning for him.  

Lal Singh had rejoined Congress last month and has been allowed to field for the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency. This move comes after the lack of finding any viable alternatives to contest for the seat against Union minister Jitendra Singh.

However, the Chief Minister of Kerala and an INDIA bloc ally, has expressed his opposition of the move in a press conference on Thursday. Vijayan has suggested that the party is transforming into a secondary version of the BJP, alleging that not only is the party not displaying the flag of it’s ally— the Indian Union Muslim League— but also are are struggling to hold their own party flag upright. He claims that this is a sign of weakening secular values within the Congress party. 

“This clearly shows that the Congress is not taking a strong stand against the Sangh Parivar,” Vijayan said, quoted by PTI. “The congress lacks any genuine ideological or practical motivation to oppose the BJP, beyond the rhetoric crafted by news-centric PR agencies.” 

He has also mentioned that Congress had taken no strong stand on the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and had completely ignored the ‘abrogation of Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir’ in their manifesto. He accused the Congress of having begun to accept the agenda of the RSS. 

“We are not supporting Lal Singh, but the idea of India”  

At the time of the incident, the Congress had been stern in their criticism of Choudhary Lal Singh. demanding strict action against the accused in the Kathua rape case. However, after having apparently found no proper replacement candidate for the seat, Congress gave Lal Singh the ticket for Udhampur, a seat he has won twice in the past. 

According to Indian Express, when asked about Congress fielding Lal Singh now, National Conference (NC) spokesperson Imran Dar said, “It is the Congress’ decision… Our stand is very clear. Like the Congress cannot dictate to us whom to field, we cannot question their candidate selection.” Dar also added that, “there are two evils and we have to choose the lesser evil for a bigger fight now. At present, we have to defeat the BJP.” Last year, NC had opposed Lal Singh’s attempt at joining Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in it’s J&K phase, calling out the opportunity that some may see in joining to “whitewash their past.”

The PDP spokesperson Firdous Tak said, “We have to see a larger and a broader objective at the moment… We are not supporting Lal Singh, but the idea of India, which we believe is the core ideology of the Congress and INDIA bloc.’’

A senior PDP leader added that “Mehbooba Mufti has made it clear to the Congress high command that she will not share the stage, or seek votes for him directly during the elections.”

Vijayan encourages IUML to take a stand stating that the former has little choice in going against Congress. He said, “the downfall of the Congress has been huge. That party should salvage its secular legacy.”

The Congress currently serves as the opposition in Kerala, where it acts as a political rival against it’s allies in the INDIA bloc. All 20 constituencies of Kerala will vote on April 26, during the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections. 

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