Sam Pitroda, the Prime Minister's special adviser on innovation, is a key Congress strategist and a family friend of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. He talks to HT about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and more.
What will be the role of the Congress as the main Opposition party in the 16th Lok Sabha?
Why should the Congress sit in the Opposition? We will win the Lok Sabha elections and form a government at the Centre again. These elections are no different than the 2004 polls in which the entire media had predicted a BJP sweep. But things happened otherwise.
Even Congress ministers admit the party has lost the battle of perception to Narendra Modi's aggressive campaigning.
I do not agree. What the opposition camp is spreading is pure falsehood. In the 1989 elections, VP Singh too resorted to falsehood. All his claims fell flat. I do not want to talk about Modi. We must focus on our achievements and policies and not on an individual. This is not the time to think about what has gone wrong. We need to mobilise all our resources to aggressively talk about our achievements.
Critics compare Rahul Gandhi with Modi and say that the latter is a better orator. What do you have to say to that?
There is no comparison. He (Rahul) is a young, sincere and honest person who has original ideas for India's future. Good oratory skills do not necessarily mean good leadership. Even rowdy elements can address people well but they certainly can't run a government.
It seems that while Modi talks about the future, Gandhi keeps raking up the past. Your views on this thought?
The party has come out with a manifesto which talks in detail about what we want to do in future. This manifesto talks about Rahul's vision very clearly. And what future are our opponents talking about? The Gujarat model? The state is lagging behind in several social and economic parameters.
Your party's 'aam aadmi' plank has been totally hijacked by the Arvind Kejriwal's party.
I have tremendous faith in the voters and confidence that they will not waste their votes. Only shouting about corruption does not mean anything. One should talk about good governance, generational changes in our institutions. The AAP guys do not understand that running a country is different from running an NGO. Do they want bureaucracy just to sit and do nothing to stop corruption?
What is Rahul Gandhi's strategy in this last lap of poll campaign?
I think he will communicate more and stick to his line of highlighting the achievements of the UPA. He did not go into a shell after the Times Now interview but got busy in tours and other party work. He will definitely interact with the media, especially with Hindi and other regional media.
You are a family friend of the Gandhis. What role do you see for Priyanka Gandhi in these elections?
She is set to share responsibilities of her brother in the campaign. We feel Rahul is overburdened with work and needs a helping hand. Priyanka has been helping both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi for a long time. She is a great organiser and plans all election tours of Rahul and Sonia. She will complement his (Rahul Gandhi's) work.