Thou shalt not say too much, Cong tells leaders | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Thou shalt not say too much, Cong tells leaders

delhi Updated: May 14, 2009 01:16 IST

If you see a Congress spokesperson repeating the same answer for different questions, don’t tear your hair in frustration. It can be explained by a new theory doing the rounds in the media circles: the Moily effect.

An unwritten, undocumented gag order was issued immediately after the Congress replaced its media department head Veerappa Moily, 69, after he spoke harshly of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whom the party was wooing at that time. Moily had also issued statements against Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan - both union ministers. The message of the move was clear: the party doesn’t want to rub anyone the wrong way.

Now, with barely two days left before the results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections are announced, the Congress does not want to take any chances at this crucial juncture. The party wants to keep its cards close to its chest and keep the rivals — the BJP — guessing.

The party has told all its leaders exactly what to say, irrespective of what the question may be lest they antagonise existing or prospective allies. The Congressmen’s four commandments are:

The UPA is intact.
We have not left any of our allies.
All secular parties are welcome.
All talks on government formation will begin only after May 16.

Party spokespersons have been clearly told to learn these by heart. Union minister Ashwani Kumar was the first spokesperson to read these commandments to journalists on Monday, two days after Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi took over from Moily.

Since then, Congress spokespersons have been repeating these commandments at every press briefing. Even party general secretary Digvijay Singh did not dare cross the brief on Wednesday.

When a journalist sought his response to a remark by Dwivedi, Singh said, “Dwivedji is the media department chairman. I endorse whatever he has said.”