K.C. Venugopal interview | ‘BJP’s only agenda is polarisation’

9 Min Read

K.C. Venugopal, All India Congress Committee general secretary (organisation) | file.
| Photo Credit: ANI

K.C. Venugopal, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary (organisation) and Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) leader, is the United Democratic Front’s (UDF) candidate from the Alappuzha constituency in Kerala in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Venugopal, a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, represented Alappuzha in the Lower House twice from 2009 to 2019. He opted out of contesting the polls last time citing party organisational responsibilities. The UDF led by the Congress party won 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala in 2019 General Elections, except Alappuzha where it lost. With a heavyweight in the form of Mr. Venugopal, the Congress is hoping to wrest the seat from the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

K.C. Venugopal interview

K.C. Venugopal, AICC general secretary (organisation), is the United Democratic Front’s candidate from the Alappuzha constituency in Kerala in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
| Video Credit:
S. Anandan

In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Venugopal says: “The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is trying to divert real issues from the people. Their [the BJP and the Union government’s] only agenda is polarisation. It is going to be a clean sweep for the UDF Front in Kerala. The BJP is not going to open its account in the State.”

Excerpts from the interview:

Are the people receptive to the poll issues raised by the Congress?

Very much. Now, the situation in the country is totally changing. The Prime Minister is trying to divert the people’s attention from the issues that matter. Their only agenda is polarisation. The people have started to realise that these are clear-cut tactics of the BJP and the Central government to divert attention from real issues. The Congress has announced five guarantees even before releasing our manifesto. It shows that we are giving importance to the issues affecting the people. It has created a good environment and people are receptive to it.

The BJP has been able to create a perception that it is returning to power.

That is because of the media. I am not blaming the entire media. A section of the media is providing wide coverage to the Prime Minister and the BJP. Whatever the Prime Minister says gets coverage. At the same time, the Opposition voices are suppressed. The same type of campaign, India Shining, was launched during the 2004 elections when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. Everyone knows what happened after the elections (BJP lost the polls). Now, the Prime Minister himself is creating a perception, and unfortunately, the media is giving it broad coverage. Some sponsored surveys are also coming in support of the claims. We believe in the minds of the people and not the survey. The people and the nation’s mood are in favour of the Congress and INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance). We are confident of victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The perception created by the Prime Minister and the BJP will gradually come down.

This will happen in the north as well?

Certainly. I am specifically talking about the northern States such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra among others.

There has been an exodus of Congress leaders from all these States, including Rajasthan.

A lot of people had left the Congress party in Telangana. There, we had 21 MLAs and 16 of them left the party. Majority of the leaders quit the Congress. But, we came back to power in Telangana in 2023. The same happened in Karnataka. We came back to power in Himachal Pradesh. Though we lost the Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, it should be noted that the Congress has a vote share between 42 and 45% in these States. Opportunist leaders may go, but workers and the people who believe in the Congress’ ideology will remain.

The Congress is the lead party in the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA bloc) but it is also accused of taking on its own allies or partners. In Kerala itself to cite an example. What is your take on it?

This question should be asked to the Communist Party India (Marxist) and the Left Democratic Front leadership. This is not a one-sided issue. Shashi Tharoor is the incumbent Thiruvananthapuram MP and Congress Working Committee member. A Communist Party of India (CPI) stalwart (Pannian Raveendran) has been pitted against him. I am a general secretary of the Congress. The CPI(M) has fielded a candidate against me in Alappuzha. Leave the other 19 constituencies. Wayanad is Rahul Gandhi’s sitting seat. If they have any sincere interest in building an atmosphere in Kerala, like in other States, at least they should have supported him by not fielding a candidate in Wayanad. The LDF should not have contested against Rahul Gandhi because the Left parties are using his photographs in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tripura and everywhere. But they are criticising Rahul Gandhi in Kerala.

Will this weaken the alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls?

No, the same scenario happened in 2004 also. In Kerala, genuinely speaking, it is very difficult for the Congress and the CPI(M) to ally. In West Bengal, it is difficult to have an alliance with the All India Trinamool Congress. Similarly, in Punjab, it is very difficult for the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to forge an alliance. There are always going to be pre-poll and post-poll alliances and there is no confusion.

The BJP has been wooing the Christian community of late and there was a controversy recently about the screening of the movie The Kerala Story by a church unit. How does the Congress look at it?

What happened in Manipur and Karnataka? What is happening in Goa nowadays? Everyone knew the target of the anti-conversion law introduced by the previous BJP regime in Karnataka. The Prime Minister, in the last 10 months, has not even uttered a word about the Manipur violence. This is the reality. The movie The Kerala Story was a fantasy work by somebody to create problems in society and community.

But some Church leaders have come in support of the movie.

I do not believe it is the general stance of the Church. People know the reality. One cannot change an ideology or mindset of society with a film. We are not bothered about it. The people of Kerala are aware of all these things. They will react in the first week of June (when election results are declared).

What is your assessment of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala?

It is going to be a sweep by the UDF. We will win all the 20 seats. The BJP is not going to open its account in the State.

Share This Article
Leave a comment