Whining vs Shining
A saga of sins, scams and shame is how the Congress described the five-year rule of the NDA government headed by AB Vajpayee while issuing a 55-page ‘chargesheet’ at the four metros. It was, in fact, the first time a synchronised attempt was made by the Congress to highlight the Centre's failures by involving top party leaders.
While it is to be seen how the Congress substantiates its chargesheet in the coming weeks, it would be better if all the top leaders participate in active campaigning instead of leaving it only to party president Sonia Gandhi. Sonia has travelled extensively in the past few weeks and has a hectic schedule ahead as well.
There is no doubt in anybody's mind that she is the main vote catcher so far as the party goes. But an impression should not be created that the other leaders are shying away from campaigning and are leaving it only for her to slog it out. The mistakes of the last assembly elections should not be repeated and top leaders must be in the field asking for votes instead of enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of their homes. It should be ensured that except those who have been entrusted with work related to the polls, other senior leaders must not be seen in New Delhi at all.
The Congress has done well in releasing the first list of candidates for the parliamentary polls. While a majority of those in the list have been renominated for party tickets, it is good to see the Congress getting into election mode. Usually, the party has the habit of leaving ticket distribution to the eleventh hour thereby giving very little time to candidates to properly organise their campaign.
Coming back to the chargesheet released by the party, there has been criticism that instead of entrusting the job of releasing the chargesheet to only senior leaders, care should have been taken in selecting those who released the document. After all, to give a proper signal the messenger is as important as the message. Some leaders who released the chargesheet fulfil this criterion, but some others do not represent transparency in public life.
Half the sting of the chargesheet against Vajpayee, is lost if the people releasing the chargesheet do not have a good perceived image. In addition to some of those who released the chargesheet, leaders like Shivraj Patil and AK Antony could also have been inducted into carrying out the task. The two enjoy a clean public image.
Overall, the chargesheet is aimed at pricking holes into the NDA's India Shining campaign by highlighting the various scams, like UTI, Tehelka and Coffingate. It also highlights how the PM has flip-flopped on various issues. It does not spare the PM's foster son-in-law either.
In fact, the chargesheet gives an indication that the Congress is not going to be shy of attacking NDA leaders and their families if senior BJP and NDA leaders continue to take pot shots at Sonia and her family. It seems lots of sparks are bound to fly once campaigning reaches its peak.