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Reboot Needed


The Congress must really reconsider its approach to the coming Lok Sabha elections. It is the belief of many that the line taken by Party President Rahul Gandhi in his speeches is determined by a team of election and social media analysts – of the Cambridge Analytica type – who are trawling all available media to identify ‘hot button’ issues that he can harp on endlessly, without caring much for the fact or content. This is because just reiteration of these issues can induce emotional responses that override intellectual examination. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done and changing circumstances can require a different approach. This cannot be determined by backroom coaching and requires an instinctive understanding of politics developed at the grassroots. It is not something that can be delivered by what may well be described as a playboy approach. His continued harping on the Raphael deal, for instance, based on data that has been debunked many times over, has now become an albatross around his neck. It is being used, post Pulwama, as a battering ram by Prime Minister Modi to drive home the unprepared state that defence was left in by the UPA.
How soon will the Congress leader’s analysts, wherever they are tucked away, come to the realisation that Brand Modi is becoming bigger? If it was a straight contest, today, in a presidential format, every commentator agrees he is miles ahead. More rooted politicians know that the contest will be at the constituency – even booth – level in the effort to defeat the BJP’s candidates based on a mix of caste, regional and community politics. However, the chattering classes are mistaken if they believe they are managing to score points by attacking Modi, personally.
If they tap into the buzz amongst the people, particularly the middle-class, which is more inclined to vote free of extraneous considerations, they will discover that despite not having a favourable opinion of Modi as a person, the people are increasingly beginning to think there is no alternative. This traditional TINA factor has always played a major role in Indian politics. Majorly responsible for this disillusionment is the personality of the Congress President, who has failed to impress, ‘hot buttons’ notwithstanding. Seeing how the recent crisis has been handled, people are unsure if he can respond in any similar way. The NRIs, in particular, although they do not have a direct role to play, are even more articulate in their support for the ‘certainty’ that Indian politics has acquired during Modi’s term, preferring it to the ghastly economic policies of the past.
There is a huge need for the Congress to review its approach if it wishes to make a mark, and looking for ‘panaceas’ like Priyanka Vadra would amount to wishful thinking.