Tuesday, 9 August, 2022
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After SP, Congress pulls out all spokespersons from TV news debates for a month

The Congress is said to be 'reining in' spokespersons as part of efforts to restructure the party after its second successive Lok Sabha poll debacle.

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New Delhi: Television news debates will not feature Congress spokespersons for a month, a move seen as part of the party’s recalibration efforts after its drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“Congress has decided to not send spokespersons on television debates for a month,” party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala announced Thursday. “All media channels/editors are requested to not place Congress representatives on their shows.”

The Samajwadi Party, whose alliance with arch-rival Bahujan Samaj Party only yielded 15 of UP’s 80 seats, has taken a similar decision.

The Congress has won just 52 of 543 Lok Sabha seats this election, eight more than its 2014 tally but still short of staking claim to the Leader of Opposition position.

Party president Rahul Gandhi has since offered to resign, but the Congress Working Committee has rejected the offer and authorised him to restructure the party.

According to a source, “reining in” party spokespersons is part of the restructuring.

A senior Congress leader told ThePrint that the brass was upset about the fact that a number of spokespersons were either ill-informed about the party’s position on a number of issues or ended up portraying the party in bad light.

“Not only this, many gave their opinions on controversial issues that the party had a clear strategy of not commenting on,” the leader added.

Also read: Why Akhilesh Yadav & SP have reason to feel ‘cheated’ by Mayawati & her BSP

Gandhi ‘adamant on resignation’

The party is also likely to go for a major reshuffle that may see many state unit chiefs replaced.

Meanwhile, sources said Gandhi was still adamant on stepping down as president despite veteran leaders participating in demonstrations to persuade him against it.

The 2019 elections have landed a bigger blow to the opposition than the 2014 polls, which had seen the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) form India’s first majority government in 30 years.

Led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP has won 303 seats of its own, with National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners pitching in another 50 to give the coalition another brute majority.

Amid the introspection triggered in many parties as a result, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had last week barred all party spokespersons from appearing on television debates with immediate effect.

Party sources had told ThePrint that the action was taken because the spokespersons were seen to have failed to effectively articulate the SP’s vision.

Also read: Congress is relying on a bunch of defeated leaders to beat Modi and Shah

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  1. I wonder what will pro Congress channels like NDTV and India Today do. Probably they will get closet Congress people to speak on the party’s behalf just like sycophants like Kumar Ketkar did for 4 decades before coming clean.

  2. Pulling out of all spokespersons from debates is a good decision by Congress. However, Congress should use this period to appoint new set of spokespersons and ensure that they give only positive messages in line with peoples aspirations and completely avoid the negative responses not liked by people. Congress should be more sensitive to non-supporters because any increase in its vote share would come from non-supports only. Conveying messages only to please its core support base is not the right thing to do all the time. I suggest one thing that may ensure positive messaging from Congress spokespersons. Appoint a person as its spokesperson who is not over jealous of RSS and certainly not those who hate RSS.

    Left liberals supporting Congress repeatedly express worry over BJP’s ignoring the Muslims. With the same logic Congress should also worry to ignore RSS’s role in Congress i.e. Congress must stop treating RSS its enemy. Modi has already started wooing Muslims. Why should Congress not stop hating the RSS.

  3. 1. Not participating in TV debates would not bring any relief to the Congress party. I believe that if Congress President Rahul Gandhi is honest, first he should give up idea of quitting post of President, and instead, concentrate on rebuilding the party. In any case his resignation will not be accepted. It is time the Congress President takes up job of meeting the party veterans in different States in which the party has drawn a blank in just concluded Lok Sabha (LS) election. But before doing anything, I think, Rahul Gandhi must tender a public apology for all his allegations against PM Narendra Modi. His party’s spokespersons too were making mindless allegations of corruption against PM Narendra Modi and they too must express regrets for making those allegations. 2. I feel that it is time for some critical self-examination by senior leaders of the Congress party. Why is it that a political party established in 1885 has fared so badly in two consecutive LS elections? 3. I feel that senior leaders of the Congress party should not forget (a) that their party is facing an existential crisis and (b) that credibility of their party as a national political party, which has suffered badly in 2019 in almost all the States would not be regained by merely talking about Congress governments’ achievements in the past or by talking about Congress party’s secular agenda. 4. Fact is that there are now fewer and fewer takers for Congress party with its so-called secular agenda. Also citizen-voters dislike dynastic succession in the Congress party, which they think has killed inner democracy in the party. 5. I believe that the Congress party has a future as a centrist (to be precise, left of the centre) political party and the citizen-voters too wish that the Congress should reorganize to become such a centrist party. More importantly, it should reconsider its secular agenda which depends too much on minority voters for survival- this I suppose is an important lesson of 2019 LS election results. 6. Incidental but important question then is this: can the Congress survive by abandoning once and for all its dynastic succession policy? Would it be able to make a break from the past and grow? Let us hope that senior Congress leaders do some a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the organization and take remedial steps to move out their party from the lows which party has reached.

  4. Good news. The cacophony which they were creating will be less shrill and hysterical. I need not switch channels the moment a Congress spokesperson begins to shout. (They rarely ‘talked’)

  5. Get a better set of spokespersons, although some / many are quite good, train and brief them well, equip them with the armour of a thick skin and a sense of humour, for they are not playing on a level field.

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