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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress looks to shift campaign pitch

Ahead of the last two phases of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is trying hard to shift the narrative from nationalism back to the performance of Narendra Modi and his government in implementing centrally sponsored welfare schemes in the last five years.

india Updated: May 08, 2019 12:30 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Lok Sabha elections 2019,India news
The Congress and its chief, Rahul Gandhi, have so far kept up the attack on Modi and the BJP primarily through the Rafale fighter jet deal, alleged bank scams, agrarian distress and unemployment.(ANI FILE PHOTO)

Ahead of the last two phases of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is trying hard to shift the narrative from nationalism back to the performance of Narendra Modi and his government in implementing centrally sponsored welfare schemes in the last five years.

The Congress and its 47-yearold chief, Rahul Gandhi, have so far kept up the attack on Modi and the BJP primarily through the Rafale fighter jet deal, alleged bank scams, agrarian distress and unemployment. Gandhi and his colleagues have also been talking about how the Congress will launch a final assault on poverty with its game-changer Nyay (Nyuntam Aay Yojana or guaranteed minimum income scheme) if it comes to power.

The Congress has now started highlighting the alleged failures of the Modi government in implementing flagship programmes. Addressing a news conference on Monday, Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu spoke in detail about Namami Gange, Digital India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Amrut (sewage treatment and water supply) scheme, Mudra Yojana, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Beti Padhao-Beti Bachao, Nirbhaya fund, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and “rising” fuel prices.

“I am keeping the truth of flagship programs in front of you. The Prime Minister will sink in his own wave of lies. It is a guarantee,” he told reporters. “All the work remains incomplete but the lies are complete. Their promises are like a bamboo — very long but hollow from inside.” Sidhu termed the Fasal Bima Yojana “a bigger scam” than Rafale, and listed the achievements of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government to draw a comparison with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance rule. This is part of the strategy that the Congress has formulated following the assessment that Modi is trying to “divert the attention from real issues by launching personal attacks” against the Congress leadership.

“Our communication strategy has the Congress president leading from the front. While Rahulji addressed open press briefings, engaged with the media, Modiji kept hiding behind smoke screens. Congress has been able to keep Modi in a constant bind. His diversionary and mega-event based tactics were exposed in Gujarat and every election thereafter, we kept our focus only on issues for which he and his government are directly responsible,” Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said.

“In the Lok Sabha polls, we are keeping track of the way he is trying to jump from one issue to another. One press conference after another, in every TV debate we stuck to the main issues of jobs, rural distress, GST and Rafale corruption, with Rahul Gandhi himself articulating them at all forums,” he added.

Jha, who is also an All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in charge of communication department, said the party has been focused, and in the remaining two phases also the alleged failures of the government in implementing its flagship schemes would be highlighted.

“Press conferences are organised keeping in mind the single point agenda, which is to fix the accountability of the PM and his government, and our spokespersons and panelists have acted as one team by speaking in one voice,” he said.

But political analysts termed the Congress’s fresh bid “too little, too late”. “They should have done it six months ago. It is too late in the day now. These are the schemes that touch hundreds and thousands of people. It is surprising that they did not talk about it earlier,” said Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao.

Dismissing Congress claims, BJP spokesperson Gopal Agarwal sais, “we have 219 schemes on the basis of which we will win the election. Take the PM Kisan yojna — within 24 days of the launch, two installments were transferred through the direct benefit scheme to farmers. This happened because we have already opened bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojna,” he said.

First Published: May 08, 2019 07:38 IST