As an effort towards this objective, the party suddenly seems to have remembered former Union railway minister and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kamalapati Tripathi, eighteen years after his death. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has organised a function in New Delhi on Wednesday to commemorate his 103rd birth anniversary.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will be the chief guest and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the guest of honour at the function. Senior party leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, Karan Singh, Devendra Dwivedi and Mohsina Kidwai, are scheduled to speak on the occasion.
It is not very often that the AICC organises a function to mark the birth or death anniversary of its top leaders except, of course, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Nobody from the Nehru-Gandhi family and very few Congress leaders, for instance, attend the prayer meetings organised by the late P V Narasimha Rao’s son at Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi to commemorate his birth anniversary. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil attend those prayer meetings though.
It, therefore, came as surprise to AICC members when they got invitation cards from AICC general secretary in charge of UP Digvijay Singh to attend Tripathi’s birth anniversary function. The AICC had shown little interest in his birth centenary celebrations in Lucknow and Varanasi only three years back.
Relations between the late Rajiv Gandhi and then Congress working president Kamalapati Tripathi, whose infamous missives to the then Prime Minister about the dismal state of affairs in the party had created ripples in political circles then, were marked by unease and bitterness. That was past, said Congress sources. According to them, the present is about the fact that the Congress needs to revive its upper caste votebank.
The Congress and SP together offer a “potent alternative” to the BJP and BSP and this could swing Brahmin voters back to the Congress fold.
“Better late than never. Kamalapati Tripathi was a stalwart. By commemorating his birth anniversary the party is sending a message to the Brahmin community about the importance the party attaches to them,” said a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh.