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HomePoliticsCongress underestimated Modi ‘cult’, NYAY was announced too late: Shashi Tharoor

Congress underestimated Modi ‘cult’, NYAY was announced too late: Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor, who won Thiruvananthapuram for the third time, called BJP a ‘great marketing agency’, but said Congress will bounce back in assembly polls.

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New Delhi: The Congress underestimated the “Modi factor” and the “Modi cult”, which led to the drubbing it received in the Lok Sabha elections, according to former union minister Shashi Tharoor.

Tharoor, who won the Thiruvananthapuram seat for the third time with an increased majority of nearly one lakh votes, said the Congress’ flagship poll promise, ‘NYAY’, did not work anywhere as it was announced quite late.

He also said Congress president Rahul Gandhi should lead the party in Parliament, but maintained that he would do so if given the opportunity.

The Modi factor

“I think the real issue was that there was a Modi factor there that we had underestimated. You see, we are hearing now that voters were saying to journalists in Rajasthan, ‘we voted against Vasundhara, but we’re voting for Modi’,” Tharoor told ThePrint.

“That’s the kind of thing that perhaps we didn’t fully appreciate — that the Indian voter has really learnt to differentiate between national elections and state elections.

“Voters decided that as far as the national government is concerned, they wanted Modi. Let’s face it, there’s been this personality cult built up over five years, with assiduous propaganda, nine lakh WhatsApp groups, how many Facebook and Twitter posts… The government admitted in an RTI a few weeks before the elections that Rs 5,600 crore of taxpayer money was spent to hype the government’s achievements and Mr Modi’s achievements.”

Tharoor called the BJP a “great marketing agency”, but said while it may have been able to “sell” Modi nationally, its strategy would not work again in the upcoming assembly elections, and the Congress would emerge as an alternative.

“The BJP is a great marketing agency… It has sold the product, the product is Mr Modi of the 56-inch chest, the muscular strong man (who) is going to keep India safe from all dangers and enemies within and without. That kind of message will not wash with educated professionals, but clearly has made a big impact on a large numbers of ordinary voters, and they have clearly voted for that,” he said.

“Now, when it comes to forthcoming state elections, that isn’t going to work because you can’t sell it twice. You can sell Mr Modi for Delhi, but you can’t sell him for Haryana and Jharkhand.”



The failure of NYAY

Contrary to the claims of the Congress’ data analytics team, Tharoor said NYAY or Nyuntam Aay Yojana (minimum income scheme) didn’t work enough anywhere “simply because I think it came out a bit late”.

He stressed on the fact that if the scheme would have come at least six months before the elections, it could have been a “game-changer”.

“It might have been a game-changer. But by the time it came out, we were already into the election campaign, and according to polls and studies, I think we only reached about 50 per cent of the electorate, and they may have been the wrong 50 per cent,” he said.

“They must have been those who read the newspapers, the urban professionals and so on, the ones who, for the most part, are going to be paying for NYAY. But we didn’t reach the 20 per cent below the poverty line, or the ones who were going to benefit from NYAY. And that is partially because we didn’t have enough time to do that.”

How he won Thiruvananthapuram

Asked what worked for him personally at a time when the Congress could win just 52 seats in the Lok Sabha, Tharoor said there was the undoubted fact that a minority consolidation took place. “By which I mean that the fear of the BJP coming to power in Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram being represented by a BJP MP was very palpable in many parts of our constituency.

“While we rightly don’t ask the religion of the people voting, the general perception is that above 75 per cent of the Muslim community and perhaps close to that from the Christian community may have voted for me, in addition to a sizeable number of Hindus,” he said.

Also read: Nair pride political gimmick for BJP-RSS but a deeply personal issue for me: Shashi Tharoor

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  1. Wait ! Why is he speaking as if he is an outsider or onlooker appraising the Congress performance? He is very much an integral part of Congress and even as Rahul was enacting his resignation drama, Tharoor put in his ‘willingness’ to be ‘Leader of the party in Parliament’. Was it not HIS failure too that Congress got this or that wrong? Or, is this too merely a postmortem report?

  2. What an amazingly patronising comment to say that “ordinary voters” do not understand what have they voted for. In case Shri Rahul Gandhi runs away from the post of the Congress president, the next best bet for BJP to win in 2024, would be to have Shri Tharoor in his place. With his condescending view on the masses, he is the right man for the job.

  3. You guys will never learn! You still don’t realize that the “ordinary vote”, as you put it, is no fool. You betray that lack of understanding when you say “That kind of message will not wash with educated professionals, but clearly has made a big impact on a large numbers of ordinary voters”, which means that in your view the ‘educated professional’ is wise and the ‘ordinary voter’ is a jackass. Wrong on both counts. I consider myself an ‘educated professional’ and I do believe that Modi can be more trusted to keep the country safe than your party comrades. And not all ‘ordinary voters’ believe in the ‘strong man’ image of Modi–still they vote him for other reasons, such as ujwala, ujala, toilets, Rs 2000 or even Ram. And clearly, as you fail to see, the ‘ordinary voter’ is wise enough not to be fooled by your NYAY claptrap, or for that matter the obviously absurd stand of your Great Leader that Modi took Rs 30,000 crore out of the poor peoples’ pockets and gave it to Anil Ambani’. Seriously, Mr Tharoor, do you believe in that crap yourself?
    So, please learn not to dismiss anybody as an ‘ordinary voter’. Accept the simple fact that Modi has delivered a lot, even though he has underperformed w.r.t his promises. And admit that your party colleagues have been extremely larcenous and their debauchery cost you all dear. Unless you come to terms with the reality, there is no hope in hell for your party.

  4. Leading from behind is a phrase I heard recently. President Obama was quite good at it sometimes. That is not the leadership an emaciated Congress needs today. If the Congress and the regional parties had got the mandate, Shri Rahul Gandhi would have become Prime Minister. If his party has 52 MPs, the government plays by the rule book, denies LoP status, he should take his place as the face of at least his party, if not the entire Opposition. It is this same admixture of arrogance and diffidence that kept him out of government for ten years during UPA rule. I would love to see Dr Shashi Tharoor as head of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, but not if he is a puppet on a string.

  5. NYAY is a disastrous idea which would take us back to the days of 2% growth rates. If you are still clinging to it even is defeat, you are a fool.

  6. Shashi Tharoor is wrong in stating that NYAY was announced late . The truth is the project is non starter as people did not believe in it’s implementation in it’s entirety . People have developed a disbelief in the Congress party with corruption tainted politicians at it’s helm . Rahul Gandhi has taken back firm stand in not withdrawing his resignation thereby exposing the party further and deeper . The party leaders realise that without Gandhis there is fathomless vacuum in the party .

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