By: Liz Mathew & Manoj CG
Over three months after the Congress suffered its worst ever defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday admitted that Rahul Gandhi’s silence on critical issues had contributed to their loss in the “war of perception”. He said the party vice-president should be “more visible and heard more” to bring the Congress back on the path of revival.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Singh said, “We lost in the war of perception. We could not market our achievements and they (BJP) could market our failures. Although our performance was much better than the six years of NDA rule on every front, yet we could not convince the people to support us.”
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Asked if it would have helped if Rahul had spoken more, he said, “Yes, because the people of the country want to know what Rahul Gandhi stands for, what is Brand Rahul Gandhi. The unfortunate part is that a 63-year-old leader attracts the youth while a 44-year-old leader could not attract them.”
Stating that Rahul should be “more visible”, he said, “Today is the age of media and breaking news; 24X 7 you are breaking news. In this age of media, Rahul should be more visible and should be heard more… How (Narendra) Modi propelled himself onto the national scene, just by cleverly projecting his image in the media… so he (Rahul) should be heard more and seen more,” he said.
Singh denied that Rahul had refused to lead the party in the Lok Sabha as he was unhappy with some senior leaders for not supporting him during the poll campaign. “It is not correct… there is not a single Congressman, senior or junior, who did not work or support Rahul.
Everyone in the Congress party accepts his leadership. And if he feels that some leaders of the Congress party have not really come up to the expectations, then he should crack the whip,” he said.
“Why should he continue with those people who did not stand by him, because the Lok Sabha election was a very crucial election… and one who did not want the Congress to succeed, his loyalty to the party is suspect,” said Singh.
Stating that “everyone has a style of his own”, Singh said Rahul cannot be equated with any other leaders. He said if Rahul had decided to lead the party in the Lok Sabha elections, it would have given him a “platform from which he could have taken on the issues which he considers are important to the country… He has to choose the forum… People must know what he stands for,” said Singh.
Asked whether the Congress should try to bring together all non-BJP parties, on the lines of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance experiment in Bihar, Singh said an “ideological consolidation” of centrist parties has to take place first.
“On ideological grounds, not on personalities… The unfortunate part is that personalities have overtaken the ideology which we should be very careful about. Today we are fighting an ideological war with the right wing. Modi is the symbol of this right wing. It is the ideology which has to work together… Our challenge is the Sangh ideology which believes in communalising every issue,” he said.
Asked if this ideological coming together would lead to an alliance at the electoral level, he said, “That is how it should be.”