The Congress leadership and Priyanka Gandhi are monitoring the party’s campaign almost on a daily basis for the remaining phases of polling across 311 seats. The supervision follows the identification of a few goof ups and lack of coordination.
A party leader told HT that both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka were keen on changing to a “pro-active” campaign style. “We observed that on several issues we had failed to set the agenda and remained reactive to BJP propaganda,” he said.
Recently, the top brass was not amused when Sanjay Jha, a new spokesperson, slammed Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the “weakest ever” prime minister. “In Uttar Pradesh, the Brahmins are upset with the BJP on various issues. Jha’s comments were seen as a setback to the Congress plan to woo Brahmins,” said a party leader.
The Congress went into damage control mode and sent union minister Anand Sharma, among others, to campaign in Varanasi.
The party strategists also discussed the impact of the plan for Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s recent appeal – a paid telecast – on TV channels. Earlier, the party had fallen back on senior leaders after internal weekly assessments found young spokespersons to be below par in TV debates.
Sources said Priyanka in particular had observed that the party’s campaign machinery should try to corner Modi more on specifics such as economy or Jammu and Kashmir. “It could have been properly highlighted how former General VK Singh, BJP’s candidate from Ghaziabad, tried to stop Bikram Singh, a Sikh, from becoming the army chief,” said a party insider.
Sources added that irrespective of the results, an overhaul of the Congress’ communications system and style is on the anvil after the polls.