Antony’s son resigns from all Congress posts following uproar over tweet against BBC documentary

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/NEW DELHI, Jan 25: Veteran Congress leader and former Defence Minister A K Antony’s son, Anil, on Wednesday resigned from all his posts in the party following “intolerant calls” and “abuses” over his tweet against the controversial BBC documentary — ‘India: The Modi Question’ — on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
While announcing his resignation from the posts in KPCC Digital Media and AICC Social Media and Digital Communications Cell, Anil Antony said he has not given up the primary membership of the party as he would like to remain as a Congressman for now.
“At this moment, politics is not my priority. I am a computer professional who has worked in various cyber digital segments for a long time and want to continue with that. I think that will be appropriate at this point of time for the party and my interests,” he said in New Delhi.
On being asked about the reasons for quitting from the various party positions, Anil said he had joined Congress in 2017 when the Gujarat elections were being held and from 2019 onwards was working for the party following a request by Shashi Tharoor and his support. But since then, there have been several incidents of planted stories and cyber bullying against him, Anil said.
Back then, he had ignored it, despite knowing that it came from a certain section of the Congress, but what happened in the last 24 hours — after his tweet — was “shocking”, he added.
“If this is the culture that has been created in the party, then I do not think I will be able to work in such an environment,” Anil said, and added, that this was the reason why he decided to resign.
Regarding his tweet, which led to “intolerant calls” to retract the same and the “wall of hate/abuses” on Facebook against him, Anil clarified that he only intended to caution people against believing what was said in the documentary in the larger interest of national security.
The Congressman claimed that what he had meant was that he has a lot of political disagreements with the BJP, but when it comes to the core interest of the nation, its sovereignty, “there we should not play politics as it is like playing with fire”.
Expressing his views on BBC, he said: “This is the same set of people that were behind the main people who are the mastermind of the Iraq war where thousands of people died because of bad decisions.”
“When somebody like that is creating a documentary and coming here, any concerned citizen of the country will say you have to be cautious about it and that is exactly what I said,” Anil contended.
He further claimed that his tweet was not against any core belief or viewpoint of Congress, but some found it offensive and in the last 24 hours he has been getting hundreds of hate messages and mails, angry Whatsapp messages and calls threatening him to withdraw his tweet.
With these kind of people, who are intolerant and full of hatred, surrounding Rahul Gandhi as his supporters, “I feel bad for him and for the party because this is a joke”, Anil said.
He said he has the deepest admiration for what Rahul Gandhi is trying to accomplish with his Bharat Jodo Yatra, but he feels bad for the former Congress chief as some of the people around him are “tearing down” what he was trying to build.
“They are trying to do exactly the opposite of what Rahul Gandhi is doing,” he claimed.
On being asked whom he was referring to when he used the term ‘chamchas’ (lackeys) in his resignation letter, Anil said he was not going to name anyone as he has different degrees of relationships with many persons in the party. “I do not want to name anybody personally nor do I want to make personal comments,” he said.
He also said that he did not speak to the Congress president or the top leadership of the party or even his father, as he wanted to take a decision which was completely independent and aligned to his own conscience.
Anil also said that he has not had any chance to speak to his father yet and will have a detailed conversation with him in the coming days.
A K Antony, also the former chief minister of Kerala, has not yet reacted to his son’s decision.
On being questioned about his views regarding the screening of the documentary across the state by various political organisations, including NSUI, Anil said he has nothing against it being screened anywhere.
Earlier in the day, he tweeted: “I have resigned from my roles in@incindia@INCKerala. Intolerant calls to retract a tweet, by those fighting for free speech. I refused. @facebook wall of hate/abuses by ones supporting a trek to promote love! Hypocrisy thy name is! Life goes on. Redacted resignation letter below.” (PTI)
In a portion of the redacted resignation letter posted on his Twitter handle, Anil said, “Considering the events from yesterday, I believe it would be appropriate for me to leave all my roles in the Congress — as the Convener of KPCC Digital Media, and as the National Co-coordinator of AICC Social Media and Digital Communications Cell.”
“However, by now I have been made well aware that you, your colleagues and the coterie around your leadership are only keen to work with a bunch of sycophants and chamchas, who would unquestionably be at your beck and call.
“This has become the lone criterion of merit. Sadly, we don’t have much common ground. I would prefer to continue my other professional endeavours without being fed this negativity, and being involved in these destructive narratives, many against the very core interests of India. These I strongly believe will end up in the dustbin of history with time,” he said in his letter.
Anil had on Tuesday tweeted that despite large differences with the BJP, those who support and place the views of the British broadcaster and of former UK foreign secretary Jack Straw, the “brain behind the Iraq war” (involving the US-led coalition in 2003) over Indian institutions are setting a dangerous precedent.
The Centre had last week directed blocking of multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary.
The two-part BBC documentary, which claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of that state, has been trashed by the Ministry of External Affairs as a “propaganda piece” that lacked objectivity and reflected a “colonial mindset”. (PTI)