How Constant Misfiring Takes a Toll (and Poll) on Party

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Politicians and political parties need to and want to be in the news. But when being in news makes your opponents laugh all the way to the poll booth, then the joke and embarrassment is on you.

The latest controversy to hit the Congress is an ad tweeted by the official handle, which showed half khakhi shorts with a burning hole. There has been much controversy over it and one group in the Congress is worried that will it have a fallout at the hustings.

The Congress’s tryst with howlers and personal comments has cost it dear in the recent times.

Let’s take a look.

SONIA GANDHI’S COMMENT

The Congress is yet to recover from Sonia Gandhi’s ‘maut ka saudagar’ comment on then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Modi have not let the Congress forget it. In fact, after the debacle post this comment, the Congress has tried to avoid it.

ALSO READ | Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Failed Lockdown’ Graph to Roast Modi Govt Backfires

MANI SHANKAR AIYAR’S FAUX PAS

The veteran Congress leader has been a habitual offender. Right in the middle of Congress Shivir in Burari ahead of the 2014 polls, Mani Shankar Aiyar had derided then Gujarat CM as a “chaiwala”.

This triggered off a very successful campaign by the BJP projecting the PM as a man from a humble background, who was taking on the powerful and entitled Gandhis. The BJP held a series of ‘chai pe charcha’ and this worked for both Modi and the BJP as the results showed.

But Aiyar did not learn his lessons. Instead, he repeated it when the Congress was putting up a brave show in the 2018 Gujarat state polls. The initial ground report was that the Rahul Gandhi yatra with Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakore was resonating on the ground. But just with a few days ahead of the polls, Aiyar berated Modi again. Immediately, the tables turned. The Congress tried to do some damage control by suspending Aiyar, but by then, the harm was done. PM Modi and the BJP seized the opportunity and won the polls.

RAHUL GANDHI’s PET CAMPAIGN

The ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ was Rahul Gandhi’s pet campaign ahead of the 2019 polls. And it has had important ramifications. One, it helped the BJP get more sympathy. The profile of all BJP leaders were changed to that of a chowkidar and the Gandhis were once again criticised as being entitled deriding a humble chowkidar.

No one was willing to buy the argument that Modi is corrupt. Second, the fallout was internal for the party as Rahul Gandhi resigned saying no senior had helped him or supported him on this campaign.

ALSO READ | Bharat Jodo Yatra: A Bumpy Road Lies Ahead for The Congress, with A Lot Riding on The Journey

G-23 was born out of this as they complained that a handful of juniors had misguided Rahul Gandhi and the result was this campaign.

ALL EYES ON THE AGENCY

Teen Bandar has been given the contract for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra. And as the yatra evokes positive response on the ground and Rahul Gandhi has impressed many with his resolve to increase his pace, not many are happy with some of the campaigns managed by the agency. Sources say seven firms offered their campaigns. But Mumbai-based Teen Bandar was chosen.

Teen Bandar is also considered to be close to one of the leaders, who manages Rahul Gandhi’s social media account, Srivatsa. The brief was simple: To project Rahul Gandhi and negate the perception that it was against nationalism.

Two of the firms who lost out allege that the chosen firm already had inside information about what was needed and hence they had the edge which landed them the contract.

ALSO READ | Rahul Banks on ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ for Image Makeover But Can Yet Another Renunciation Save Gandhis, Cong?

One of the blunders was a picture of AAP crowd which the Congress handle ran as its own. It was pulled off, but now many members of the social media, Youth Congress and Mahila Congress team have also been roped in. Interestingly, two firms recommended by Priyanka Vadra pulled out of the bidding process last minute.

The yatra has big plans. Rahul Gandhi wants to increase the pace to 25 km per day which not many in the party may be able to keep pace with.

Those who are working on the yatra with Rahul Gandhi are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that while it is okay to be in the news, it should not be at the cost of electoral wins.

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