Rattled by the Anna Hazare storm that has overtaken the country, the Congress is now reworking its strategy to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.
Congress managers concede that the aggressive stand adopted by both the government and the party after Hazare’s letter to PM Manmohan Singh before starting his fast over a strong lokpal bill that culminated in his arrest has backfired.
Senior Congress functionaries privately admit that spokespersons have “crossed the line” and “exceeded their brief” on several occasions while attacking Hazare. The strong reactions to remarks made by Manish Tewari and Rashid Alvi has prompted the party to rethink its strategy.
Keeping that and the general public perception in mind, the party now appears willing to walk an “extra mile” and talk to Hazare and his team on various issues provided there is no “intransigence” on their part.
“Flexibility on both sides is imperative for a resolution of issues….Perception management is also important,” a senior Congress functionary said.
The Congress is also worried that the BJP is trying to take political advantage of the situation by backing Hazare’s campaign to suit their interests since it has been out of power for the past seven years and is “desperately” seeking to regain lost ground.
Party managers suggested that the RSS, BJP and its affiliated organisations were “discreetly mobilising all the resources and support for the movement to create anarchy” in the country. “That has to be tackled effectively,” the functionary said.
With party chief Sonia Gandhi recuperating abroad after a successful surgery for an undisclosed ailment, Rahul Gandhi, as part of the reworked strategy, might speak on the larger issues of corruption and price rise in the next few days to give a message to the masses that the Congress is doing its best on these fronts and stands by the common man.
Rahul has so far chosen to remain silent on the Hazare issue. At a function held to formally induct film star K Chiranjeevi into the Congress at the party headquarters at 24, Akbar Road on Saturday, he did not answer questions on Hazare.
Sonia’s absence is strongly felt by party leaders at this juncture. “Her presence and decisions have taken the Congress out of many crisis situations,” a leader said.