The Congress is desperate to establish a new identity after its ‘aam aadmi’ slogan — that helped it come into power in 2004 and again in 2009 — was successfully hijacked by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and used effectively against it in last year’s Delhi elections.
The AAP’s victory, led by Arvind Kejriwal, was so resounding that the term did not even figure in the Congress’s first campaign slogan for 2014 polls, released on Friday. It read “Har Haath Shakti, Har Haath Tarakki (Power in every hand; progress for every hand)”.
The Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI), one of the key projects of the UPA government, has replaced its tag-line ‘Aadhaar Aam Aadmi Ka Adhikar’ with ‘One India One Identity’.
The Youth Congress has virtually abandoned one of its key initiatives: Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi (Common man’s soldier) – a grassroots concept to use the youth to promote the benefits of UPA’s ‘pro-people’ scheme like MNREGA and RTI.
Political observers say the Congress has shifted its focus to the middle class now. Congress president Sonia Gandhi too has admitted in the past that her party’s revival largely depends on addressing the disenchantment of the middle class.
A far cry from its slogan in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections: “Congress Ka Haath…Aam Aadmi Ke Saath (Congress’ hand is with the common man)” and “Aam Aadmi Ko Kya Mila (What did the common man get), to counter the BJP’s ‘India Shining’ campaign. The slogans helped Congress to a win that year.
For the 2009 polls, the slogan: “Aam Aadmi Ke Badhte Kadam…Har Kadam Par Bharat Buland (Every step of the common man makes India stronger), helped it retain power for a second term.
But that is the past. When Kejriwal named his political outfit the Aam Aadmi Party, many Congress leaders argued that the ‘aam aadmi’ term was synonymous with the Congress since it was founded in 1885.
But the party seems reconciled to the fact that it can no longer use the ‘aam aadmi’ term — though it recently decided to refer to the AAP as ‘Arvind Kejriwal’s party’.