Will Congress' unofficial boycott of G20 further hurt its nationalist image?

Niraj Sharma
New Update
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge (File photo(

New Delhi: The Congress has in all its political prudence seemingly decided to unofficially boycott the ongoing G20 Summit. The move could further weaken its appeal amongst the nationalist masses while making the Congress appear to be standing against the nation. 

The step by the Congress is expected to ensure that all the credit for a possible positive outcome at the summit will be solely taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, while the grand old party is further entangled in a narrative that it can't feel pride in India's achievements. 

The Chief Ministers of its ruling states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel respectively have decided to not participate, claiming denial of landing rights for their aircraft.

However, the move comes seemingly after the grand old party protested that its national president Mallikarjun Kharge was not invited to the official banquet of the event. 

Congress termed not inviting Kharge as petty and small. However, the Congress' claims have been immediately denied by the government which has categorically stated that even BJP chief JP Nadda has not been invited for the event. 

However, government sources say that former Prime Ministers and chief ministers have been extended an invitation. 

BJP has also questioned why did Kharge not attend the Independence Day event at Red Fort despite the fact that he was invited.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has also clarified that while a high-tech security air cover has been deployed for the G20 Leaders’ Summit at Delhi on 8-11 September 2023, movement of Governors and State Chief Ministers on their State aircraft is allowed. This came after Congress CMs expressed inability to participate in the G20 Dinner at Leaders’ Summit at Delhi on 9 Sept 2023 due to air restrictions in and around Delhi. 

At the same time, the former chief of the party and scion of its first family, Rahul Gandhi, is also outside the nation, making statements that can be deemed as going against the national cause. As dignitaries began to pour into New Delhi, Rahul Gandhi accused the government of being undemocratic and not doing enough for Manipur. This has invited criticism that Rahul Gandhi runs down the image of India while he is on international tours. 

Fissures in the INDIA bloc over attendance? 

Though the Congress is yet to clarify its stand on the participation of its Chief Ministers, several of its Opposition INDIA bloc allies have confirmed to be part of the international event. 

Seasoned and astute politicians like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, and Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren have confirmed their participation. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is also likely to attend along with INDIA bloc allies Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann. 

It is understood that most of these opposition leaders were of the view that not attending an important international event, which the country was hosting for the first time, would send a very wrong message to the masses. Many of these leaders felt that while they may have opposing views from the BJP, it did not mandate the boycott of such an event. 

In fact, many of these leaders may have even tried to talk some sense with the Congress leadership in a late-night conversation on Friday. However, it doesn't seem to have worked and the grand old party has seemingly unofficially boycotted the event. 

It is time that the Congress does an introspection regarding its political and strategic moves. Or else it will continue to get itself entangled in a web of narrative that the BJP weaves. And it could very well end up hurting the Congress' prospects in the 2024  Lok Sabha polls as well.