This 30 December 2021 photo shows Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and others waving to supporters during an election rally in Sanour constituency, in Patiala. ANI

Is the Congress trying to commit hara-kiri? The way a section of its leaders—and it does not seem to be a small section—is mocking the security threat that the Prime Minister faced last week in Punjab, makes one wonder if the party realises that there cannot be any politics on certain issues. That any threat to the security of the Prime Minister of India is a threat to the nation itself, and for the sake of the country, its head of government should not even be perceived to have come under any threat, however remote that possibility might be according to the incumbent’s traducers. And in this case, it was a serious breach to have the Prime Minister of India stranded on a flyover for 20 minutes inside 10-20 km of the border with Pakistan. Don’t Congress leaders understand that people are watching and that it does not behoove a party that calls itself “the natural party of governance” to allow some motor mouths to drive its agenda? Even if these Congress leaders and the party’s ecosystem—particularly those operating on social media—do not have any respect for the Prime Minister’s chair, do they realise that their irresponsible utterances may impact their electoral prospects? That to be counted once again as a national force, they need to win elections outside Punjab as well.

The opinion polls anyway are suggesting that the Congress is in trouble in Punjab and just might be overtaken by the Aam Aadmi Party in the Assembly elections. Hence, it is but natural that the Congress will be desperate. But can desperation justify pandering to the fringe? Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and the Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu are making the most intemperate comments about the matter. It is obvious that the Chief Minister wants to paper over the grave lacuna in his own administration, which failed to sanitise the Prime Minister’s route. The question is: was the lacuna deliberate? It is but natural that questions will be raised about “complicity”, where Channi’s administration turned a blind eye to the agitating farmers blocking the Prime Minister’s route, to score political points. It was also disgraceful that he breached protocol by not receiving the Prime Minister at the airport, as the rules demand, and then tried to trivialise the matter by saying the PM was never under any threat. As for the Punjab PCC president, the less said the better. Navjot Sidhu proved that maturity is a characteristic that cannot be associated with him. From his words, his posturing and his bravado it is apparent that he is yet to make a graceful transition to politics from being a TV comedian. It’s difficult to believe that Congress mocking the PM’s security breach will be condoned by Punjab’s voters. Since Congress has not noticed, AAP, which is a serious contender to power in the border state, was one of the first Opposition parties to condemn the breach. Hence, these Congress leaders and the ecosystem functioning on social media need to take a lesson from their colleagues Sunil Jakhar and Manish Tewari, who have been categorical that the PM’s security is not a political football.

It’s appalling that a party that has lost two of its topmost leaders to assassins will let a section of its leaders be so cavalier on the matter of security of the head of government. What sort of a message is coming from the Congress leadership that this is still continuing?

Courtesy these leaders, the party appears to have been consumed by hatred. Congress needs to realise that it may want to come across as a responsible national party, which can give the country a credible alternative, but in reality, these irresponsible utterances are not inspiring any confidence in the already beleaguered party.