Thursday, April 24, 2014

Congress leaders' failure in highlighting UPA government's 'achievements' and the party's poor campaign strategy vis-a-vis BJP's publicity blitz

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A couple of days back, Congress leader, Anand Sharma, was attacking the BJP, and asking how the the party could get so much funds to run the high-pitched campaign for Narendra Modi?

I was amused at Sharma's 'innocence'. Shouldn't Congress being the ruling party for the last decade, be knowing the source of BJP's funding? What was the government doing? Don't the intelligence agencies work under it?

Yes, BJP's election campaign and its strategy is far ahead of Congress. In fact, the backroom boys of BJP have done a tremendous job, in creating the 'wave'. Newspapers, electronic media, internet, all are abuzz with BJP's publicity.

But who stopped Congress from planning its campaign? Narendra Modi addressed more election rallies across India. His chopper kept flying everywhere--even in North East and Southern states, where BJP didn't have much presence.

From addressing 3D rallies to 'Chai pe Charcha', he has been in the news all the time. A Hindi newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar, published a report on its front page, comparing the resources thrown into Rahul Gandhi's campaign and Modi's campaign.

Ten years as ruling party,  yet UPA can't manage funds!

While Rs 10,000 crore has been spent in Modi's publicity, the figure for Rs 500 crore for improving Rahul Gandhi's image. The difference is quite clear. [Who says, we are a poor country?]. Leaving the virtues of socialism behind, now let's come straight to the topic.

When BJP, being out of power at the Centre, for ten years, could manage to much funds, why couldn't Congress plan, coordinate and run a more visible campaign for the Lok Sabha election? Except one or two catchy lines, used recently, and some advertisements, Congress' campaign was pale most of the time.

It tells a great deal about UPA leadership's failure that while they were in power, and were quite strong till last year, when everyone thought BJP had little chance to win election [till RSS okayed Modi's arrival on scene], but the businessmen openly sided with Modi and the BJP, without apprehending that this tilt may upset Congress.

Congress leaders' lacklustre speeches, poor publicity, failed campaign management

Clearly, Congress' calculations failed. There was something seriously wrong with them, that today the party's candidates are often heart talk about lack of funds to fight election. There is lack of enthusiasm among candidates.

I am not at all a Modi fan but his speeches evoked interest. In sharp contrast, Rahul Gandhi's speeches lacked the conviction.

Often, it seems, his heart is not into, what he is doing. Even the language is strange, too much cosmetic.

Addressing rural Indias, his speech writers, use such tough words that aren't used in villages, at all.

Hence, there was no impact. Addressing a public meeting, he was speaking about Modi, and talked about 'Advani' and 'Adani', but he fumbled and the crowd sat blank-faced.

Party couldn't even highlight own 'achievements'

Let's forget all. The question is why Congress couldn't even highlight the achievements. In the first term, it came up with NREGS (MNREGS, now), and Right to Information Act (RTI).

Similarly, Right to Education (RTE), is an important step, or for that matter, the Food Security Act.
For example, if the Congress has done something for the tribals, their right over land, or for those below poverty line (BPL), then it should have spoken about it, loudly, again and again, and sent the message.

But it hasn't learnt much in the age of mass media. [Bureaucrats retire and go to BJP, then targeting UPA. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's former media adviser Sanjaya Baru goes on to write a book about his indecisiveness.]

The situation has come to such a stage that in several states, BJP's powerful CMs have often taken credit for UPA's schemes, especially, in health sector, and managed to give impression that these were state-run schemes.

Interestingly, the Congress leaders now complain that the BJP leaders hijacked Centre's schemes.

It is really a joke. Shouldn't Congress have taken credit for their schemes?

Who stopped them? Or you thought you are the 'default ruling party', and there was no need to tom tom your 'achievements'.

Whether they had any achievements or not, BJP has surely given impression that it is running states effectively in Gujarat, MP and Chhattisgarh. It takes credit for a lot, it didn't do, but it does. Congress couldn't do that either.

Where are Congress leaders?

In this era, Congress leaders continue to neglect the social media. While Narendra Modi's twitter handle was getting thousands of followers everyday, there was nothing in the name of Rahul Gandhi.

So if someone wants to interact with him or send him a message or make a suggestion, he can't do that. It is not about whether the person's suggestion is accepted, but it is about the satisfaction of having driven home a point. But there is nothing of that sorts.

The Twitter campaign of Congress got active only recently. Still, Rahul Gandhi has no official handle on Twitter yet. Why? Can't he get a 'competent team' to tweet on his behalf, when even AAP leaders can do much better.

No Connect: Why senior leaders like Kamal Nath never speak on TV, face questions, reply?

Yet another aspect is how UPA ministers are not ever seen replying to BJP's allegations. If ever you see a Congress leader speak, he is plain dismissive about the BJP or avoids talking about the issue, like Kapil Sibal or Salman Khurshid. There is no strong and logical replies to counter BJP's charges.

While BJP leaders are quite articulate [also aggressive], the senior most Congress leaders like Kamal Nath, are never heard on TV.

What's the use of their experience if they can't say something in layman's language and can't connect to the people? When did you hear Ahmad Patel speak? [and still, so powerful]

Or for that matter, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Madhav Rao Scindia and Ghulam Nabi Azad. What to talk about Antony, Tharoor, Jaipal Reddy, Oscar Fernandes? On studio and stages, the voice and the verve matters.

The body language, conviction and speech, go a long way, in setting off the momentum. This is not about results of election. Despite running a high-voltage campaign, BJP may not be able to form government, but Congress won't do good either. But is it ready to learn from its failures? That's the question.