New Delhi: The “Left-leaning lieutenants” of the Congress are responsible for much of its poor performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, wrote Rachit Seth, the party’s national media coordinator, in a controversial blog post Tuesday that has now been deleted.
In the seemingly introspective blog post, titled “The ‘Deshdrohi’ tag!”, Seth sought to list out the reasons why the BJP was able to successfully brand the Congress “anti-national”.
“The branding stuck because of Congress’ own inactions and some terrible mistakes,” Seth wrote.
He tweeted the blog post at 3.55 am Tuesday, but appears to have deleted it within hours, fuelling speculation that he may have been told to toe the party line.
As party chief Rahul Gandhi’s resignation saga continued through Tuesday, Seth’s blog was praised by many for its honest-but-bruising stock-taking of the direction the party took in the election campaign.
Seth wrote that he was privy to the “post-Pulwama narrative” in the Congress, saying Gandhi had been advised by the communication department to question the Narendra Modi government’s “inaction” immediately after the 14 February terror attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel.
“From day one, we had suggested that Congress president should question the massive intelligence failure, the absence of air transportation to slain CRPF personnel, and PM Modi’s ‘Jungle Safari’ in Corbett, even as the attack was on.
“But people with more powers around Rahul Gandhi, lethargically vetoed this narrative,” Seth wrote.
‘Left-leaning lieutenants of Congress’
Seth said that, despite Gandhi being “on board with our suggested strategy”, he appeared to dither.
“Surely a man, who forcefully and emphatically spearheaded a national security issue like Doklam and the national interest issue like Rafale, should not have waited, had some influential people not advised him to do so,” he added.
Seth blamed party members who nursed “vested interests and Left leanings” for Gandhi not following the communication department’s suggestions and waiting until about a week later to question the Modi government.
“Since the Left-leaning lieutenants of the party, delayed a direct attack on the Modi govt on the sensitive and core issue of national security, party’s narrative suffered a jolt,” Seth wrote.
Gandhi family loyalist Sam Pitroda was criticised in particular.
After the 26 February Balakot air strikes on the terror camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the group responsible for the Pulwama attack, in Pakistan, Pitroda had told news agency ANI that attacks happen “all the time”.
“The attack happened in Mumbai (26/11) also. We could have then reacted and just sent our planes but that is not right approach. According to me that’s not how you deal with the world,” he was quoted as saying.
According to Seth, “Mr Sam Pitroda’s statements later exacerbated the negative perception against us”.
“His opinions on 26/11 and Balakot were completely out of turn and damaged our narrative beyond repair,” he added.
The role of Congress manifesto
Seth did not spare the Congress manifesto either.
“Which political party writes in its manifesto that they would reduce the Army troops in a border sensitive and strategically important, terror prone state like Jammu and Kashmir?” Seth wrote.
The Congress party’s manifesto had promised to “reduce the presence of the Army and CAPFs (central armed police forces) in the Kashmir valley”.
Seth also attacked the party’s poll pitch to dilute the sedition law and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“Which political party talks about watering down sedition laws and weakening a law which grants special powers to its Army (AFSPA) in sensitive insurgency prone areas?”
The blog post ended with Seth emphatically noting that the “real Congress” must be saved from the “Left-leaning lobby”.
“The Left-leaning lobby should be thrown out of the Congress. Then only we can save the real congress. These are the same people who took Rahul Gandhi to JNU when tukde-tukde gang labelled was pasted on us (sic),” he added.
While Seth deleted the post from his website amid the widespread appreciation it received, his tweet sharing the blog still reads, “Why should Congress ever cede the Nationalism space?”
According to the blog post, the Congress’ nationalism could not be questioned.
“Nobody can question the commitment of the Congress to Indian nationalism. There is not a single instance in India’s history, pre or post-independence, nor a single place in India where a party worker has not shed his/her blood in protecting the integrity of the nation,” he wrote.
‘An honest post-mortem’
Seth’s write-up evoked appreciation and applause from journalists and party supporters alike.
“At a time when almost the entire Cong Party is observing an Omertà code of silence, a young Congman chooses to vent his feelings in a blog with rare candour…” tweeted senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.
At a time when almost the entire Cong Party is observing an Omertà code of silence, a young Congman chooses to vent his feelings in a blog with rare candour.. Worth a read. only an honest post mortem will now revive the grand old party. https://t.co/sWlkLglQqU
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 28, 2019
Syed Maqbool, who calls himself an “online” Congress and Rahul Gandhi “campaigner”, hailed the blog post as “dil se likha hua” or “straight from the heart”.
The ‘Deshdrohi’ tag!
Must read "dil se likha hua" article from @rachitseth
These left-wing lobby members destroy Congress narrative just before every election as if they take supari from the Modi to do so.
— Syed Maqbool (@maqbool_sm) May 27, 2019
Thank you @rachitseth for putting this in the public domain. This is how we begin the process of reclaiming the political space.. by introspecting and recognizing our mistakes.
— Sachin Tandon (@cugwmui) May 27, 2019
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.