Thursday, 27 January, 2022
HomeOpinionIt’s 2021 and Congress continues to make the ‘Rafale’ mistake

It’s 2021 and Congress continues to make the ‘Rafale’ mistake

Congress leaders think they can win elections simply by criticising the incumbent. They forget to ask: what do the people want?

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The key accused in Kerala’s gold smuggling scandal have reportedly alleged that the Kerala assembly speaker, P. Sreeramakrishnan, gave them a bag full of US dollars to hand over to the UAE consulate. This will make the top opposition leader in the state, Ramesh Chennithala, a happy man. Chennithala has, for months, been accusing the Speaker of being involved in the scam and demanding his resignation.

Never mind that voters in Kerala recently gave more seats to the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) over the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The noise that the Congress party has been making over the gold scam didn’t seem to discredit the LDF before voters. The UDF can only hope that the local polls were rather too localised, and the gold scam will show its impact on the assembly election in May this year.

For now, the Congress’ single-point agenda in trying to make the gold scam stick on the LDF hasn’t worked. It is turning out to be a bit of Rafale — just as Rahul Gandhi thought allegations over the Rafale deal would discredit a popular Narendra Modi, Ramesh Chennithala hoped the gold scam would bring down Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had become rather too popular with Kerala’s initial good performance in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi hasn’t visited 17 states once since May 2019, a reflection of ‘on-off politics’

The wrong problem

The efforts to link the top Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM leadership with the gold scam are not doing well for want of evidence. The over-enthusiastic response of central agencies trying to link the gold scam to terror funding and what not is being used by the CPM to gain sympathy, making it look like the Modi government is targeting the CPM government.

The media in Kerala took this case up in a big way, salacious as it was. Eyeballs were focused on it. This was a dream situation for the Congress, where the media does some of the opposition’s work in discrediting a government. And yet, Pinarayi Vijayan seems Teflon-coated.

Ramesh Chennithala and his party forgot to ask themselves one basic question: how will the voter benefit if the assembly Speaker is forced to resign? It is nobody’s case that there was no scam, or that the incumbent government shouldn’t be asked tough questions about it. But from July to December, the Congress in Kerala made it the central issue. Is it the central issue? If Pinarayi Vijayan is somehow labelled a gold smuggler, will it provide jobs to unemployed Gulf-returned men and women? Will it prepare Kerala for the next flood? Will it help contain Covid-19? Will it create infrastructure in the state? Will it make Kerala as investment-friendly as the other south Indian states?

Also read: Why Congress has consistently failed to translate farmer outreach into election wins

Basic rule of an ad

Anyone in advertising will tell you the basic principle of an ad. It must fulfil a need. What pressing need of the Kerala voter is being fulfilled with the Congress party going on an on about a gold scam which, so far, seems to involve only private individuals and not CPM leaders?

At the same time, it is useful to see the kind of headlines Pinarayi Vijayan generates. He speaks non-stop about development. His government has fulfilled 570 of 600 promises, he claims. As the Congress licked its wounds, Vijayan went on a state-wide tour, talking of development issues everywhere. This is what the Congress should have been doing.

This is not a lone example. Kamal Nath recently made the same mistake in the crucial Madhya Pradesh by-polls. He could have regained his government if he had swept them. Instead, he lost badly. The Congress’ entire campaign was about how Jyotiraditya Scindia and the BJP unfairly toppled his government. Murder of democracy and all that. And Kamal Nath did a lot of Hindutva positioning, trying to give credit to Rajiv Gandhi for the Ram Mandir. In the villages of Chambal, how was this to impress the voter? Does the voter care about making ends meet or getting justice for a wronged Kamal Nath? Does the voter care about falling incomes or about deciding who should get credit for building the Ram Mandir?

Also read: Five lessons for Rahul Gandhi from what Machiavelli said 500 years ago

‘Aam aadmi ko kya mila?’

In 2004, the Congress party won an unexpected lead over the BJP in the Lok Sabha election, helping it for the first UPA coalition government. Absolutely nobody had expected such a result. Pollsters and the commentariat alike were proved wrong about their consensus that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was too popular to defeat. The Congress surprised itself. The achievement was thanks to a slogan written for the Congress by an ad agency: “Aam aadmi ko kya mila?” What did the common man get?

That is the question the Congress has forgotten to ask now. When it does, it reaps rewards. The Congress again surprised everyone including itself by winning the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections in 2018 by focusing on the voter’s top problem and promising a farm loan waiver. If Tejashwi Yadav managed to create some buzz around his campaign, it was with the promise of 10 lakh jobs.

In 2019, Rahul Gandhi has just such an opportunity in his promise of minimum basic income in some form. The Congress called it NYAY. The NYAY campaign was launched so late, and even after it was launched Rahul Gandhi just couldn’t give up his slogan, ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’. The Congress party’s data analytics cell reportedly insisted that the Rafale issue was working for the people. As a result, the party didn’t give NYAY much of a chance.

Today, Covid has ravaged the economy, and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) managed to retain Bihar despite the recession. People’s incomes have fallen, if they have managed to retain employment at all. This would be the perfect time for an opposition party to launch a mass campaign demanding minimum basic income as a social safety net. It could help the Congress in the forthcoming elections in Kerala and West Bengal. But where is Rahul Gandhi? He was tweeting against Modi from Milan.

The author is a contributing editor. Views are personal.

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  1. Rahul Gandhi is a good individual but not a good politician. He is an easy going person but the responsibility of highest leadership of Congress party is thrashed upon him. His mother don’t to let away the Congress party leadership and possible Prime ministership from the legacy of Gandhi Pariwar. She don’t even want to see her daughter Priyanka Vadra Gandhi to take up that position. The highly obedient son unwantedly doing the thing. He tried to run away by resigning his top party position. Unfortunately he fails in his effort. It is natural for people like Ambika Soni take advantage of the situation but blaming BJP is living in illusions and hiding the truth. It is incorrect to believe there is no congress without Gandhi family. The party will bounce back when the real democracy is established in Congress party. Despite losing badly in to BJP it is still a pan India party. It should not vanish. I am not a congress person but worried about our democracy. There must be a constructive opposition in a healthy democracy. Otherwise the things tend to go non-democratic way after a while. It’s natural. In the absence of a concrete agenda almost all opposition parties including Congress trying to tackle the issues wrong way and fall flat. They need to do more home work before taking head on with ruling party.

  2. @ShivamVij
    I had no intension to put another comment but I saw many rss pgs roaming around in the comment section spreading filth.
    I have read all your articles and they are top class, continue the good work. Probably, the only reason I read ThePrint website.

    You must pursue “Public Speaking” course then as career and spread your ideas speaking publicly in Forums, see how ‘kanhaiya kumar’ gets so many invitations
    Create a think tank with 5 like minded young Journalist and start your journey as Public Speaker cum Political writer.
    This gives more exposure to your thoughts, connection cum encouragement plus pays very well!!

    A civil war(political social movement) is long over to throw rss out of Modern Indian society and Political system. Ban and dismantle it like Nazi party.
    Win or loose, its definitely going to be interesting 10 years(2020-30) to work tracking Political activity of India.

  3. In 2019, most of the liberal media ascribed NDA’s victory to the Balakot strikes. What people of the country got from there were pride and self respect. Is Shri Shivam Vij saying that this is what the people were looking for?

  4. INC despite having a bunch of good leaders G23, unable to win elections because of Rahul at the top.
    Rahul has tried to leave politics by resigning as President then ignoring all important events of INC, giving ‘on the face’ message that he doesn’t want to be running Congress. But Ambika Soni and others who are on BJP-RSS payroll doesn’t let him leave the position.
    Everyone’s aware Rahul is good for BJP including Rahul, thats why he wants to move out of politics.

    But, we Indians must not worry of INC internal problems. Because Voters don’t elect PM, they elect MP.

    If people can be united at LS seat level to take on BJP by a local leader say Mamta in bengal, Tejaswi in Bihar, Shiv Sena in Maharastra, Chandrashekar Azad in western UP, Kejriwal in Delhi/Goa, Owasi in all muslim majority seats etc.
    Every LS seat, make it a direct fight between BJP vs Indians (just a single candidate representing all Indians)… either you vote for BJP or Vote it Out!!

    Campaign to unite all Indians at LS seat level can be borrowed directly from “Four steps to defeating Modi in 2024. Step one: forget state elections”

    • People don’t elect PM???? People voted manmohan in 2009 because they knew he will be PM..people voted him out in 2014 because people had enough of spineless congress…So you want unstable govt with many parties who will be fighting among themself instead of governing.???Those days are over..people want strong govt not weak and spineless govt..

    • Well, let’s imagine that opposition wins by following your strategy but the question remains is who will be their leader. Once they are in power they fight each other like cats and dogs and never care about country. Each one you mentioned above are power hungry people and Indians know it very well. We have witnessed enough of this coalition government and know how each of them try to suck out maximum benefits for themselves not for country

    • I am not your school teacher, so got no interest in wasting time explaining democracy to you.

      When we say DEMOCRACY, it is actually a system. We call it DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM. Each component of a system has roles and responsibilities. If each component does its job, then this SYSTEM works perfectly.

      Do we need to know PM candidate before voting?
      NO. If each Ministery (PMO, Home, Finance etc) of govt does its job, we don’t have to worry who is the PM.

      Is PM Modi doing job of a PM?
      NO. He’s just having a good time at the top.

      Is Home Minister Amit Shah doing ‘Home Minister’ job?
      NO. Home Minister of India is a full time job which takes more than 7 days per week given the amount of work to be done.
      If you want to spend your time in GHMC and Bengal elections campaign or every bloody elections in country. Then better leave the position of HM.

  5. Modi bashing is not taking opposition anywhere. So the hopefully the 1st lesson will be learnt.
    To come up with new ideas is quite difficult, we are not a bunch of idiots , not to know what needs to be done in the interest of the country.
    Mostly what Modi has done is to take up old ideas refine, rename and implement them as his own, which progressively built his credibility. Even then he would not have succeeded had he not been clean.
    That clean image he has built over years with no chamchas or family around.
    So earlier the people openly accept this, faster they might come up with some one like him as an alternative.
    Compare his qualities with all the ex-PMs

  6. Why are you blaming that great man Mr. Shri Rahul Ji?
    Mr. Rahul Ji likes to play with paper airplanes – why are you blaming him for that?

    He even went to Italy on 31 Dec to learn how to spell Rafale.
    He is a very dedicated leader our youth icon Shri-Mr. Rahul-Ji. He goes abroad all the time to learn new ideas from his Pakistani-Chinese friends.
    You think he is some common ChaiWallah?

  7. TS Darbari – The article has rightly explained the core issue causing Congress to decay. A strong opposition must know the core issues related the common man. Let’s take the example of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, he became an issue for the ruling government and gathered a huge crowd during his speeches. It was all because he knew the issues related to the common man and that is opposite with Congress leaders. Ramesh Chennithala and his party forgot to ask themselves one basic question: how will the voter benefit if the assembly Speaker is forced to resign? It is nobody’s case that there was no scam, or that the incumbent government shouldn’t be asked tough questions about it. But from July to December, the Congress in Kerala made it the central issue. Is it the central issue? If Pinarayi Vijayan is somehow labelled a gold smuggler, will it provide jobs to unemployed Gulf-returned men and women? Will it prepare Kerala for the next flood? Will it help contain Covid-19? Will it create infrastructure in the state? Will it make Kerala as investment-friendly as the other south Indian states? #TS_Darbari #Ts_Darbari_Blog #TS_Darbari_News #Ts_Darbari_Views #Ts_Darbari_Blogger #TS_Darbari_Comments #Ts_Darbari_Opinion #About_TS_Darbari #TS_Darbari_Articles #Politics #Views #Comments #who_is_TS_Darbari #About_TS_Darbari #Who_is_TS_Darbari Who is TS Darbari? Mr. TS Darbari is a top management professional, with several years of rich & diversified experience in Corporate Strategy, New Business Development, Sales & Marketing, Commercial Operations, Project Management, Financial Management and Strategic Alliances.

  8. Feeling sorry for poor Vij. After two years of ranting about Modi he is being forced to grow up and notice that people vote for leaders who deliver and not for those who indulge in kite flyong

  9. “Shoe I am “you STUPIDO congrass won in 2004 because the jihadist and proselytizers voted in a consolidated manner and HINDUS remained divided.

    Anybody POLITICAL party which ignores taking action against a certain community who is sending it’s youth to fight religious war in Syria Afghanistan and other places will win in kerala THANKS again to SECULAR VOTES.

    Jyodiraditya couldn’t be defeated was because people respected him for joining a party which was fulfilling the wish of his grandmother i.e. SHRI RAM MANDIR.

    Unless ” STUPIDO ” stands next to the Prince, the burden of stupidity will fall on the Prince. MAMMAMIA!!!!!.

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