Many senior and young leaders have left the Congress in the past one decade. This number is growing day-by-day. In this background, Organiser representative Deepti J Verma talked to Anil K Antony, who recently left Congress and joined Bharatiya Janata Party.
The great Congress exodus is happening and you are the latest asset that the Congress has lost to the BJP. It all started apparently with your tweet on BBC documentary. Take us through that. What happened during that time?
You are right, certain things decisively changed. There was a documentary that was released by the BBC. I have been following the BBC for a while and I always thought that the outlet had certain prejudices against India and it is not something which is recent. It’s something that has been going on for the last 75 years.
In the way they cover events from India or in the way they report against India. So BBC ever since we gained Independence, they always had tried to portray India in certain light. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself had banned the documentary twice; first in the 60s for portraying India in a bad light and in the 70s during the Emergency. Multiple Governments including the Congress Governments had clashes with the outlet too because whenever it came to certain situations, for example, border situations in Kashmir and Punjab, the outlet always had certain views (a coloured view), which I always felt and it is true that they were biased against India and were more aligned to our neighbour and even maligned India, when it came to the Indian Army, the Armed Forces.
“Rahul Gandhi is surrounded by certain people who are all cut off from the ground Indian realities and they are not able to understand this country’s political consciousness, economic consciousness and cultural consciousness”
However, suddenly I saw Congress and other parties taking up this documentary and running around with it across India as if, this was the gospel truth. So another questionable character! But then my party, ironically the day I made a tweet in the afternoon, Rahul Gandhi, suddenly had a press conference and issued full support to the documentary. That changed the mindset of the party completely, and then they were completely supportive of the documentary and then my view was an eyesore for the party! And the certain elements of the party from Kerala as well as (from)Delhi, wanted me to either delete it or withdraw it or maybe correct it in some manner. But I refused because of my conviction.
Was it a lot of pressure because then you tweeted about the pressure and the working culture?
I would say, it was not just the pressure, it was many, many things. They are willing to, let’s say compromise our national interests and they are willing to work with people who are, let’s say questioning our sovereignty and our territorial integrity for narrow political views, for narrow political gains and I did not feel very comfortable doing that. So I decided that I will not change my stance.
So it was only this incidence for you or you think it was a culmination of all that you felt even before, working with the Congress or whether the experiences with your father, AK Antony, that led up to it.
If you look at the Congress party in the last three, especially, there were many instances where the party had taken stances which I believe are against the core interest of the country, especially our security interest. On a many occasions the party was ok with many of their spokespeople questioning the activities of the Army. On a many occasions some of the senior leaders of the party themselves had questioned the activities of the Army, even the surgical strikes. To add to it, Rahul Gandhi went to Cambridge University, and made certain statements, which I would say was completely uncalled for because, first of all it is very ironic that he is a former president of a party which is India’s oldest national party.
Also, his other tweet, when he is like kind of trying to hint there is an axis between Adani and you and everybody else who has quit the party, do you think he is becoming increasingly aggressive and intolerant?
Rahul Gandhi is surrounded by certain people who are all cut off from the ground Indian realities and they are not able to understand this country’s political consciousness, economic consciousness and cultural consciousness. Finally, it is not about right or Left, it is our country first everything is about our nation first, and then here is a person who I believe is going more and more to the extreme fringe left and sitting there everything is a very closed echo chamber.
Now that you’ve joined the BJP, which is obviously ideologically diametrically opposite of Congress party and having grown up with your father being in the party; and also having spent your childhood in Kerala, which is considered the bastion of the Left, how will you rewire yourself, or as seen that and you’ve said positive things about RSS in your recent interviews? Do you think it’s a realignment that comes naturally to you?
I would say(that) it is a matter of learning and I am glad my upbringing in Kerala exposed me to many kind of political thought processes. You are right, it is a State, which is a Left leaning, but when I was in the US, and travelled across the country, I became more and more convinced that this extreme Left leaning politics is very detrimental for the interest of the people. And when you look at Kerala right now, let’s say it’s the most educated State in the country, where the average age is 27-35. These are young people that are forced to leave the state, and the country, because of lack of opportunities so and economic policies of the various governments that were ruling there because in their view point that industries are bad, corporates are bad etc. But that not the, the especially for the young people in this country India. After 1991, when Mr Narasimha Rao opened up the economy, our economic trajectory started changing considerably, our economic consciousness started changing considerably and now every person in this country, especially young people, they are looking for opportunities, new employment opportunities and avenues of social and economic mobility. And this is the main reason I joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is after absolute realisation that the Bharatiya Janta Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only party in this country which is a national party with a nationalistic outlook and a very clear vision and direction to take this country forward.
“I joined the BJP because all my conversations with the leadership, even listening to the Prime Minister whenever he is speaking it is very clear in my mind that he is not thinking of religion or caste and majority or minority”
Talking about Kerala, where do you think the BJP fits in the Kerala political landscape, especially when it comes to Hindu causes like the Sabri Mala case or the Mopla genocide? Considering you are in touch with the youth in Kerala, you think it is something which resonates with people.
Here I will look at it in two aspects. One, I joined the BJP because all my conversations with the leadership, even listening to the Prime Minister whenever he is speaking it is very clear in my mind that he is not thinking of religion or caste and majority or minority. He is thinking of hundred and forty crore Indians and he has a very clear vision to take the entire nation forward and reach the destination as a developed country in the next 24 years. Now looking Sabrimala, even when I was in the congress, my stance was very clear because I come from Trivandrum, the temple is only 40-50 kilometers from where I stay and most of the believers etc. A large number of them are from the southern Kerala regions and you speak to people in that area even women who are believers, and they will not go there because there is a very fixed belief there and the God associated with the temple Swami Ayapah is a Brahmachari, that is the belief there are very specific reasons why women of particular age are not allowed to go there. So now you look at the discussions that are happening, there are bunch of so-called reformers who think it is a gender issue, who are pushing for women to enter etc. But none of these people, these reformers, want to enter this particular temple— or any temple, in my view. Even the Mopla revolt that you mentioned. It is a very complex part of history, which again because of Kerala having a Leftist influence, is slowly being white-washed. So this issue came into prominence I believe almost two years back because that was a centenary and the Mopla revolt happened in 1921 and the 2021 was 100th year, so this is when once again conversation started but you go back in time in 1921.
You have been currently meeting with a lot of the top BJP leadership. What is your biggest takeaway as a young person in politics.
Right now these meetings are to seek their advice, because it’s a new organisation, completely different from the organisation where I come from. But what excites me and makes me very happy is that every single person I meet from a top leader to a worker, they’re all working with a single-minded focus to push the country forward. They all have a very unified thought of nation building and they all are completely working for the Prime Minister’s vision of taking the country from where it is to a developed nation in the next coming years. There is a lot of positivity and they are all working with a passion for a vision, which I find to be a very positive environment.