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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Congress needs to communicate better: Kapil Sibal

Varghese K George, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 28, 2013
First Published: 00:22 IST(28/5/2013) | Last Updated: 00:26 IST(28/5/2013)

Among the best defence lawyers in the country, and recently handpicked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to be law minister, Kapil Sibal has enough arguments for government - not an easy task given its apparent freefall owing to corruption charges and governance slippages.

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Ask him about the downslide of the Congress and he tells you it is the BJP that is going downhill.

"There have been 11 state elections in the last two years. The Congress has increased its strength by 60 seats, and the BJP has gone down by 92 seats. So you tell me, who is going downhill?" Sibal counters.

"You should put this question to BJP."

But logic alone doesn't win elections, Sibal concedes obliquely.

"Perceptions matter and Congress is sensitive to perception," he says.

"That is why four ministers (who faced various charges, including corruption) resigned. A chief minister (Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra) resigned," he says.

"It is the BJP that is living in denial."

Turning around this perception is the biggest task for the Congress in the next months, admits Sibal.

"We must communicate and we need the help of the media in this," he says, adding that the negative perception about the government is primarily a media creation.

"The shrill of the opposition caught the media attention more than the sane voice of the government."

"You talked about presumptive loss of 1.76 lakh crore, which should not have been a debate at all. Telecom, coal and power, three of our main growth sectors have been crippled by the negative publicity created around it. These controversies are creations of the media," the minister said.

There could be a debate about the concept of presumptive losses, but what about a relative of former rail minister Pawan Bansal getting caught red-handed selling government jobs?

"There has been no conviction, but still we requested him to step aside, because as I said, we are sensitive to perception."

Far from conceding any governance failure, Sibal argues that the achievements of the UPA government are" historic and unprecedented."

"In the last nine years that we have been in power, the per capita income of India grew three times over. The last budget of the NDA was of Rs. 4.6 lakh crore. Our latest budget was of over Rs. 16 lakh crore. Our economy has grown three times over. In the 11th plan we added 54,000 MW to our generation capacity compared to 20,000 in the 10th plan. Twenty-five crore people have benefited from our rural employment programme."

Ask him why Congress is slipping despite all this.

"You are wrong. It is because of all this that we are improving - as you see in assembly elections."


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