Politics

Congress Is Failing For The Same Reason Pakistan Is — Hate India Messaging

Sonia Gandhi speaks as former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi look on during a meeting at party headquarters in New Delhi. (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • At the dawn of freedom, the Congress party was a Hindu party with secular leanings. Today, it is neither Hindu nor secular.

    Pakistan, which has built its entire state ideology on an anti-Hindu, anti-Indian platform, is slowly unravelling. Pakistan itself does not stand for anything, anymore.

    The Congress is failing for the same reason Pakistan is.

One of the reasons why the Congress party was again routed in 2019 was this: it tried to copy Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) success formula without actually understanding it.

You can also read this article in Hindi- कांग्रेस उसी कारण से विफल हो रही है जिससे पाकिस्तान: भारत-विरोधी संदेश

In the run-up to the general elections, the party spruced up its social media team; it tried to create booth-level presence for party workers, mimicking Amit Shah’s innovation without the soul-force needed for the exercise; it also conscripted a new data analytics chief, Praveen Chakravarty, who then created a Project Shakti with a database of alleged true believers in the party who could then help spread the party’s message virally. Conscious that the BJP was running away with a big chunk of the Hindu vote, Rahul Gandhi started his temple hopping tours from 2012, and called himself a Shiv-bhakt.

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While the social media engagement was strong with the urban middle class, Project Shakti actually bombed. If you want to know why, The Economic Times today (17 June) has devoted nearly half a newspaper page to explaining it in detail. It seems Congress politicians gamed the system by artificially inflating membership. Thus, messages that needed to go viral simply ebbed out. And Rahul Gandhi’s temple tourism was seen for what it was: a bogus attempt to claim a Hindu sensibility and identity artificially.

The problem with the Congress, though, needs to be understood more simply: it is not the database that matters, but the messaging. It is not the numbers enrolled in Project Shakti that matter, but the emotional commitment of the cadre. This is what really enabled the BJP and its top leaders to coast to victory while the Congress stayed stuck at the starting post. But for the seats it won in Tamil Nadu, courtesy DMK, the Congress party would not even have topped its 2014 Lok Sabha seat count of 44. A data analytics team can be hired – Prashant Kishore has always been available – but it is what you stand for that ultimately delivers the vote. Data analysts can crunch the numbers, but not enthuse the voter.

There is a story in the Mahabharata, where both Arjuna and Duryodhana land up at Shri Krishna’s doorstep and find him sleeping. Both want his favours before the Kurukshetra war. When Krishna gets up, and both of them seek his support. Krishna says that since he spotted Arjuna first, he will give him the first option to choose between his army and his own personal support. Arjuna chooses Krishna and Duryodhana gets the army – and the latter is overjoyed. But we know who won the war with Krishna’s help.

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The moral of the story above: one person with commitment is worth more than an army of mercenaries.

For the Congress party, the lesson is the same: look for true commitment, and not an army of mercenaries masquerading as data analysts or new members. They may have done more harm than good, and Chakravarty’s first claim to fame was his famous video where he claimed that Tamil Nadu farmers were paying for Uttar Pradesh’s farm loan waiver. (View his video here, and the rebuttal here). If this is the quality of advice Rahul Gandhi deems fit for his ears, god help him.

The problem with Rahul Gandhi and his party is that they do not sound authentic on any count. If they can buy Chakravarty’s logic merely because it sounds good to Tamil ears, or if they can go about backing the tukde-tukde gang in Jawaharlal Nehru University merely because the BJP was against it, this implies that the Congress merely stands for something negative: we are not BJP.

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Another problem with the Congress party, and its band of data analysts, is this belief that the BJP has lots of money, and thus can buy a whole lot of trolls and hired guns for its campaign.

While the BJP may be doing this and more, this is not why the party is able to campaign effectively. The main reason is that almost all its “bhakts” are true believers in the party, and if not the party, at least Narendra Modi. In the last election, many scores of supporters did propaganda on behalf of the party without any recognition from the party, all without any financial or logistical support. These men and women backed the party because they truly wanted to.

In the JNU tukde-tukde affair, for example, most BJP supporters were comfortable with the party’s nationalism; most Congress supporters, despite paying lip-service to free speech at JNU, were not comfortable with the party’s identification with rogue anti-national elements at JNU.

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As long as the Congress party thinks that mercenaries alone can do the trick, it will be barking up the wrong tree.

The BJP wins for three reasons: its supporters back it, often at their own cost, because they truly want the party to win and consider it their own. This is true even if they are frustrated with the party about not doing anything about their core agendas; the party focuses on the message, and not the data analytics alone; throughout the campaign the BJP focused on only two things – Modi and nationalism. The Congress party’s only consistent theme was anti-Modi, anti-BJP. It did not seem to have any faith in its own policies, only a formal lack of faith in the BJP’s.

The Gandhi dynasty no longer pulls votes, and the Congress party is lighting its own funeral pyre as it does not stand for anything, including many things it fought for during the freedom struggle. At the dawn of freedom, the Congress party was a Hindu party with secular leanings. Today, it is neither Hindu nor secular.

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Pakistan, which has built its entire state ideology on an anti-Hindu, anti-Indian platform, is slowly unravelling. Pakistan itself does not stand for anything, anymore.

The Congress is failing for the same reason Pakistan is.

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