Kanhaiya Kumar Joins Congress: Rahul Gandhi Has Been Planning This Since 2016

Rahul Gandhi took note of Kanhaiya Kumar during the JNU row in 2016 and has been wanting to induct him since then.

3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Former Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Kanhaiya Kumar, on Tuesday, 28 September, <a href="">joined the Congress</a> party, in the presence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.</p></div>

"When a united youth rises, dictatorship shatters," the Congress tweeted from its official Twitter handle on 28 September.

It was an important day for the Congress, with former Jawaharlal Nehru University president Kanhaiya Kumar joining the party and Independent MLA from Vadgam in Gujarat expressing support for it.

They party showcased Kumar, Mevani and its Gujarat working president Hardik Patel.

While all these leaders are important in their own right, party sources reveal that Kanhaiya Kumar's induction had been a long term aim of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

According to a source privy to the induction, Gandhi has been wanting to bring Kumar into the party since he first heard him in JNU in 2016.

"Rahul Gandhi saw this as a major personal goal," said the source.



On being asked why Gandhi felt this way regarding Kumar, the source explained that "Gandhi wanted to prove a point to the party and, more importantly, to himself."

"By bringing in Kanhaiya, Rahul wanted to destroy the perception that he only promotes young leaders from a dynastic or elite background," the source further added.

Gandhi is said to have been very impressed by Kanhaiya Kumar's speeches as JNUSU president, especially during the sedition row. Gandhi is learnt to have said that he wants the Congress to be a party that "provides space to such young leaders". He also hopes that the entry of leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar would act as a catalyst for change in the Congress' functioning, bringing in "youth energy and an ideological drive as well".

However, it is important not to overestimate or entirely dismiss the importance of Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani entering the Congress. It needs to be seen from the point of view in terms of national narrative and their electoral potential as well as limitations. You can read more about the possible impact here.


Apparently, Rahul Gandhi also relates to Kanhaiya Kumar due to his clear Centre-Left politics. Kumar's induction is said to have created some friction between Gandhi and the Left Parties, for whom the student leader was an important emerging talent.

This is the second time that Gandhi has done something like this. The previous occasion was in 2019, when he contested as the UDF candidate from the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, a constituency that the Left was hoping to win.

Not only did Gandhi win the seat, his presence also ensured a complete sweep for the Congress across Kerala. The Left was routed and could win just one seat.



Those close to Rahul Gandhi are, not surprisingly, happy at Kumar's entry.

However, many in the Congress don't share Gandhi's enthusiasm. There are two types of people who are viewing this negatively

First, those who feel that Kanhaiya Kumar's track record - the sedition case in particular - could harm the Congress and play into the BJP's propaganda linking Congress to what it calls "Tukde Tukde gang". They feel the Congress should occupy a broad Centrist position instead of tilting towards the Left by bringing in people like Kanhaiya Kumar.

Second, some of those who have come up through the NSUI rank and file also feel disappointed at leaders from rival unions being given prominence in the party.

But the NSUI and Youth Congress don't have a uniform view on this. A sizable number of the youth cadres are also enthused at the induction of Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar.

The question now is - how does the Congress plan to use leaders like Mevani and Kumar? Would they be focussing on their home states or will they have a national profile? Will they focus on campaigning or whether they will be given organisational responsibilities?

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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