Narendra Modi is going to be an issue in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Congress has to face the challenge upfront,Union Minister Manish Tewari told a gathering of his party’s media strategists here today.
Party sources said Tewari,who is Information and Broadcasting Minister,is understood to have said this in response to questions including one as to how to tackle the challenge posed by Modi who is now BJP’s face for the general elections.
Tewari said corporates are using television channels to project Modi.
His insistence was that Congressmen have to face the challenge upfront. Maintaining that the Core of Congress is its “secular credentials”,Tewari asked spokespersons “not to be diffident” in articulating this.
“You do not have to vacate the seats when the chips are down,” he said adding in difficult siutations,partymen will have to act as “Ranvijay” (one who wins the battle) and not “Ranchhod” (one who runs away from the battlefield).
Tewari cited the example of Bihar assembly elections in October,2010 when the party had won only four assembly seats and he had appeared on over 20 news channels facing a barrage of questions.
To a question as to how to counter to BJP’s attack on Congress over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,the minister said the Congress leadership,including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party President Sonia Gandhi,have repeatedly apologised for this “reprehensible” incident.
“But you have not heard a single apology from their side” over 2002 Gujarat riots,the minister is learnt to have said.
The two-day session saw Rahul Gandhi seeking uniformity in the partymen’s responses and adherence to party line and warned of action otherwise. The meeting also saw senior ministers seeking to demolish the opposition criticism of the government on policies like FDI,food security and inflation.
Tewari,who was addressing a session on preparedness for the electronic media,also reminded the participants of the fives Cs–Courage,Conviction,Candour,Content and Convenience (comfort with languague or medium) before they disseminate the party’s viewpoint before the press or at the social media.
At the media briefing,party spokesman Raj Babbar said Tewari explained how spokespersons and panelists should get across their points of view within 30 seconds–crisp and short–to make an impact.
Babbar said the workshop was organised to face the challenge of the “”campaign of falsehood” of the opposition
Responding to questions on how to defend the government in the wake of a spate of scams hurting the image of UPA-II,he said allegations need to be countered and cited the example of 2G scam.
Tewari said while there was much controversy about Rs 1.76 lakh crore estimated loss in 2G spectrum allocation,the fact is that the government resorted to auction route later on which evoked little response,a fact that needs to be highlighted.
The concluding day of the two-day media workshop of the party also saw Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor,an avid Twitterati,giving the participants lessons,through video conferencing,in the use of social media Twitter and Facebook.
In his dos and don’ts prescription,Tharoor,who was earlier Under Secretary General of UN for Communication and Public Information,carried forward with Rahul Gandhi’s line of “positive politics” and “decent language”.
He said the Congress media team should counter the “propaganda” by the opposition on the social media with facts and figures but not use abusive language “as is being done from the other side”,the sources said.
He said party spokespersons should equip themselves with the data on UPA’s key schemes like MNREGA and the new ones like direct benefit transfer (DBT) and food security.
Sanjay Jha,one of 36 television panelists of Congress,gave the participants tips on TV debates.
Sandeep Dikshit addressed a session on research and and Deepender Hooda on social media.