The rout of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections was largely due to a “huge communication failure” by the Congress, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi tells Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Why do you think the Congress was routed in the polls?
It was because of a huge communication failure on our part. While the Congress-led UPA government did so many good things and brought about significant changes in the people’s lives, we failed to translate those into votes. We did a lot of good work in 10 years and thought people would vote for us anyway.
What about the BJP’s victory?
The BJP mounted a publicity blitzkrieg in a typical corporate style, which we could not match at all. Theirs was a very good marketing strategy. We failed to communicate with the people. Modi did create a wave which worked. He raised expectations of people by focusing on the young generation with promises of jobs, and everybody was convinced with the promise of bringing down prices.
Did the Congress underestimate the BJP?
I think so. We did not believe there was such an undercurrent. We focused on RSS designs but not on the silent networking RSS had done to ensure BJP’s victory. I must admit BJP did a lot of hard work.
What are your thoughts on Rahul Gandhi?
Our publicity was bad. Our planning was poor. I had pointed this to Rahul several times. I had also warned him against being so defensive. I had told him we require a strong publicity campaign to match the BJP’s. But I would still say Rahul did his best.
How long will it take for the Congress to recover?
It will take time. But remember, this is not the first time we have faced defeat. We had lost in a big way in 1977 and then again in 1998 and 1999.
Nobody thought the Congress would fare so badly in Assam…
Yes, I thought we would win at least one seat more than the last time. In 2009, we won seven out of 14. But everything is possible in a democracy, it is the people’s wish. I accept sole responsibility for this and have offered to resign.
Did you underestimate voters?
We did not realise there was so much resentment among the people against us. The people had never displayed their anger or discontentment and silently waited for the polling day. We accept the verdict.
What do you suggest the Congress should do now?
First and foremost, we need to identify our failures. It was a collective failure and we must rectify our problems. And this we have to do as quickly as possible because I strongly feel the Modi magic will not last long.