How much hard work can you do to transform yourself? How much effort can you put in to change the opinion of your critics?
Once there was this woman who was called the ‘Goongi Gudiya’… Later she shook the world with her conviction and emerged as the Iron Lady of India. Yes, this woman is no one else but Indira Gandhi.
Hope never died for this woman. She didn’t let criticism of others get to her heart. She toiled and let her work spoke for her.
There is something in the Gandhi family that people don’t take them seriously in the beginning. Be it the example of Indira Gandhi or her son Rajiv Gandhi, or now her grandson Rahul Gandhi.
Just like his grandmother and his father, Rahul needs to understand that mere words can’t help him revive Congress. It is ‘work’ that the people of India seek.
The hope for Congress to make a comeback is bleak.
Top political strategists have been hired to let the party taste the long missed victory.
But will this tactic pay well for Congress in general and Rahul Gandhi in particular?
Well, not really!
The current political scenario of the country reveals the fact that there is a gaping hole within the political parties’ promises and the ground realities.
If Congress really wishes to do something good for the country, if it really needs to make a comeback at the political front of the country, then it urgently needs to lessen this gaping hole.
It is not an easy task. Nor is it a one time task. This will need constant efforts.
We, the common citizens, wish to see work. We don’t seek fake promises. We have had many of them. It is time for the Congress party to come out in the open and let the people support it by the results that they see. Not by political gimmicks.
Stop missing the ‘connection’
There is no denying the fact that everything first begins on a mental level, before it actually takes a physical form. For Rahul, the formation of ideas at the mental level does happen, but then, it doesn’t go any further. Time and again I have iterated that this man has some great ideas, but he fails to implement them. The ideas just remain that – ideas!
Thus, in the pursuit of genuinely fetching the attention of the public, Congress needs to have a connection with the masses. It needs to understand the psyche of the Indian citizens and work towards their betterment. Till now, the party has been getting just a bird’s eye view of the very many problems that India has been facing. It needs to have a holistic view.
No more viewing from the outside. Get into the crux of the matter. Understand the core reason why the country is not booming and what can actually be done to make it progressive in the real sense of the word.
For a long time now, there are several changes that Congress party needs within itself. But, it has been ignoring it.
Preparing for the 2019 Faceoff
Rahul needs to understand that in 2019, he will be pitched against Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar and possibly against Arvind Kejriwal too.
But is he prepared?
One can not contest the fact that at present, Rahul’s acceptability is almost close to nil. This, I have felt, through the constant mocking that people have been doing on my previous blogs on Rahul Gandhi and Congress party. People have stopped taking him seriously. While many of them ridicule him just because they support BJP or AAP, there are others who don’t find anything significant that he has done for the country.
This is where the picture becomes even hazier than what we may think it to be.
The Congressmen know that Rahul has been doing good things. There are some people who might agree to it, even if they don’t support the party. But, then why does a huge section of the public don’t agree to it? Well, because according to a larger public opinion, Rahul seems to be a non serious guy.
Narendra Modi may be making several mistakes, but the perception that people have of him is rock solid. He is seen as a hard working politician who is cent per cent country centric and who has a vision. He promised India a better future. He promised the people of our country a government sans corruption, a progressive government that aims to take India ahead of others, which doesn’t restrict its progress with scams and scandals. He made his way to people’s heart and they, in turn, voted him. He resonated with their thoughts, and they chose him to lead from the front.
Similarly, if we take a look at Arvind Kejriwal (even though I don’t agree with Kejriwal’s political rhetoric), one can’t deny that he inspires a certain section of people, particularly the Aam Janta as we know that section, which by the way has various other strata within it.
I have no resistance in openly saying that I dislike him. But does that take away the fact that he is slowly becoming a leader of the masses?
The truth is Arvind Kejriwal worked for achieving this position of relating to the public at large.
Now, moving towards Nitish Kumar. This man is someone who doesn’t like the limelight. Something that is highly dissimilar to what Mr. Modi and Kejriwal like. Nitish has worked in Bihar subtly and people voted for him.
When people vote, especially when it is for the country, they try to identify with the leader. They treat them like a captain of the ship who navigates the ship successfully – battling through all the waves of despondency. These political leaders get the adulation, people look up to them. And, for Nitish it worked perfectly. He worked. People appreciated his efforts. They brought him back.
But what is the image that Rahul has built up for the people to see, or get inspired by?
There are many people who see him as a brat. They feel like he doesn’t have a vision. Many of them also hold the opinion that he is doing politics just for time pass. For they believe that he was neither willing, nor capable of leading Congress or India for that matter.
Rahul needs to change this opinion. Just like Narendra Modi made Gujarat model a success, Rahul also needs to make some model which he is able to sell.
He needs to reform the opinions of millions. For doing so, he doesn’t only need to change himself, but he also needs to make some big changes within the party too.
Say ‘No’ to Negative Campaigning
First, or, perhaps, the most important change that Rahul Gandhi needs to make at the earliest is to stop the tactic of Negative Campaigning. This tactic might have yielded good results in the USA, but India is no America.
Indians have heard enough about the wrongdoings of Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal. It is not helping Rahul to win the masses. In fact, it is making the opposition all the more powerful, and the results are here for us to see.
Criticizing or countering Narendra Modi will not help Rahul at all. People need to know what he has done so far that it has been pointing fingers on others. More he speaks about Narendra Modi, more he invites condemnation.
Let’s take the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as an example. The moment Rahul attacks this program, he faces disapproval of many. People don’t want him or any other political leader to demotivate others just for the sake of making votes. They say that if you haven’t done anything; let others who are doing something work with peace.
Thus, it is important for Rahul to stop making Narendra Modi his centre of attention. Rahul needs to forget Modi for 3 years and focus on self. And, gradually, his work will speak for himself.
Rather than countering Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Rahul can launch his own programs to work for the betterment of the country. A separate Congress Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will not harm anyone. In fact, people will love Rahul’s guts and his wisdom to do something for the country.
Likewise, in the Dalit areas as well, Rahul should take some immediate initiatives. He needs to work for the community who has supported his party for years now. All such areas that have no proper water supply or which have water shortage should have more hand pumps, and Congress can make this happen.
Instead of visiting the common people once in a blue moon, which media states as Congress rhetoric, Rahul can visit the downtrodden areas regularly and share the woes of the people. The Zila Panchayat heads or Congress district heads or even State Presidents should visit the public regularly and share meals with them.
The party workers need to make the general public aware of the fact that they are there for them. Winning the confidence of others is difficult. But, if you have the will and the intent, nothing can stop you from doing that.
Then, Rahul has to come out of the shell that he seems to have nestled into a long time back. He has to stop being withdrawn.
And, that is certainly not impossible.
I mean if Salman Khan, somebody who was considered a total brat in the Bollywood industry about a decade ago, could have millions of fans today, then why can’t Rahul get a positive outlook? He can too. All that Rahul seriously needs at present is to work towards building that image.
And this is something that only he can do. No one else can do this for him. No matter how many experts he may bring in, he will have to make changes within him in order to win the hearts of the Indians. No one can write his future, he needs to grab the pen and write it on his own.
Rahul must participate more in parliament debates. He should start giving more bites to media. He should break the perception that he can’t speak. People of India will surely appreciate his efforts, even if he makes mistakes. He should learn from his father, who also made mistakes, but finally carved his indelible image in the minds of millions of Indians through his work and vision.
Not only the Gandhis, but other leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee also made mistakes. Even Narendra Modi did, and he is still doing. But country has given them benefit of doubt that at least they are trying.
At present, there are many people who may not be happy with BJP, but still the party is getting benefit for trying to work things out for the country. While, the constant censure that Congress is bestowing on BJP, is giving the perception that it is not letting the ruling government work.
The general opinion which has been built today is that Congress ruled for over 60 years, but it is not giving Narendra Modi a chance to work peacefully. This needs to stop. And it has to be done before it gets too late for Congress to recover.
Anti-Hindu, pro-Hindu or just a Hindustani?
Over the years, the Congress party has been mocked by the opposition as an anti Hindu party, simply because it tries to please the minorities. This is where Rahul needs to strike a balance. He needs to work for not only the minorities, but also for the Hindus.
Whenever there are killings, whether a terrorist attack or a communal disharmony, Congress reaches there. But whenever a Hindu person is killed by a Muslim, no Congressman comes forward.
The JNU incident is a great example. Rahul, being a national leader, should not have gone there. Instead, if it was way too important for the Congress party to make an appearance, then some Youth Congress Leader could have gone. The incident brought a huge damage to the Congress party as people set a wrong perception that Rahul supported the ones who were making slogans against India.
There has hardly been an instance where Congress has moved ahead to support a Hindu, and this has been an advantage for the opposition, for long now.
Sensing the ignorance that the Congress party gives to the Hindus, Narendra Modi took advantage. He pleased Hindus like no other and created a massive vote bank for himself.
During the Navratri festival, Narendra Modi keeps fast. In fact, it is said that even while meeting Barrack Obama in 2014, Modi had nothing but “nimbu pani” or lemon water.
The kind of message this gives to our Hindu centric country is unimaginable. People hold Narendra Modi in great reverence, and talk highly of the country’s Prime Minister who gave so much importance to religion that he never stops conducting rallies during his religious fasts. He survives solely on lemon water, and this is what makes him a favorite of many Hindus worldwide.
Since time immemorial, Indians had the opinion that Congress is secular and it can not please Hindus only. But over the years, it has been understood that the party pleases one specific community at the cost of Hindus. And this is the Muslim community. The party’s leaders throw Iftar parties or dinners, but no Hindu festival is celebrated by the party with pomp.
The BJP party took advantage of this secularism that binds Congress. And, BJP never failed to utter that the Congress party in general and Gandhis in particular are anti Hindu.
Rahul must change this.
We saw that Rahul celebrated Holi this year, which is certainly a good step, but he needs to do it for all the religions. He needs to show respect to all the religions and celebrate the major festivals of all the communities. He has been with the Dalits. He needs to be with the Brahmins also.
Let’s take the instance of the Ram Temple. Yes, the same temple on which the BJP party has been built. The party claims that lord Ram only belongs to BJP. Time and again the BJP party members have brought this holy place into the limelight, just to garner media attention.
But the irony is that it was only during Rajiv Gandhi’s period that the Ram Temple was unlocked. However, BJP being an opportunist, gained supremacy over the temple and is living on the political dividends of the Ram Temple.
The BJP party is enjoying the results of the work that Congress did in the past. And, Congress is as ignorant as it can be.
Not only did the party stop making any great initiatives, but it also failed to claim the ones that it made long ago.
Work vs. Words
Today, Rahul talks about women empowerment and youth empowerment, but the work done to empower the women and the youth are not really conspicuous.
There are many who still couldn’t get why I left Narendra Modi after campaigning for him with all my heart and soul. Well, the answer is simple – he just talked the talk.
Mr Modi always said that he wants to build a corruption free India. But, he couldn’t leave the Badals who are the powerhouse of corruption and dynastic politics in Punjab. Mr. Modi’s failure in breaking the mighty SAD – BJP alliance in Punjab made me leave him. Because for me, he was just making fancy talks and was unable to actually act on issues that governed the nation’s well being or which are hindering the progress of the nation.
Similarly, when Rahul talks about corruption, he forgets that there are various corrupt leaders in his own party. So, he needs to start building the image of a clean party first. He needs to bring in some new faces in the party, those which are free from materialistic motives.
Reconsidering the ideological paradigm
Another important step that Congress needs to take is to come to the centre by leaving its left inclination. It has been quite a long time that Congress revisits its ideological concept. It has to forego the fact that once it was built on the left-wing ideology. The changing times demand a shift in this ideology of the party and a much needed one at that!
There is another area that demands Rahul’s urgent attention. It is the anti-industry stance that he has created around him over the years. There are many corporate leaders who still are at loggerheads with the Gandhi scion for the constant stands that he has taken on land acquisition and environmental issues.
Here, Rahul needs to break the ice with the industry people. 8 out of 10 industry heads speak in favor of Narendra Modi. So, Rahul needs to increase the gap here and work positively, rather than negatively on the industrial aspects of the nation. It would be great if he could have a rational vision for India, where he can give the much needed honor and thoughtfulness to the industry people.
Winning hearts beyond India
Then there is the NRI community, which has always been neglected by the Congress party. On the other hand, BJP has a very strong NRI base. Many party leaders in BJP have overseas friends in America, Malaysia, and Singapore. But, Congress has miserably failed to reach out to the NRIs. This needs to be looked into too. For a great part of Indians reside overseas and this is what the party needs to have its focus on.
Congress & Media Management
Media Management is one more area that demands great devotion of the Congress party. Learning the art of media management, in this day and age, is inevitable. There are hardly any op-eds or articles being written on Rahul. This needs to be changed. People should be able to know him in and out. He needs to share his thoughts with the general public and this can only be done if people write more and more about him.
Then, the party needs to have credible faces in its spokesmanship cadre.
Most of the times, the existing spokespersons are not well prepared for the debates. The party needs to bring in some fiery spokespersons which should have a good mix of senior workers as well as youth and women party workers. As a matter of fact, there are not many strong women leaders in Congress. Rahul, who supports women empowerment, needs to work on this aspect as well.
Then again, the faces that are brought in as Congress’ spokespersons should have a good aura. These people should be well read and well polished to represent the party in front of the entire country.
Erik Qualman, a famous American author once said – “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?”
And this is what Congress needs to absorb by heart.
The present time is of this tech savvy generation who learns everything through social media. People read news on their social media accounts; they participate in debates, forums, talk about the country and do a lot more with these websites that have changed the face of the world.
Congress needs to capture the mindset of this generation. The party needs to come out of its legacy or the history that it built for the country. Millennials need to know about the party’s vision and what the party has decided to provide them in the future. It is an undeniable fact that the legacy that Congress has had is great, but the party can’t continue to milk that always. It can’t get votes on that legacy forever. Thus, Rahul needs to communicate with the youth and tell them what his vision for the country is. He needs to be a better communicator, much more expressive that what he is at present.
Social media applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter have reached every home. And, Congress needs to make the best use of them in a very positive way, not by negative campaigning.
One of the successful demonstrations of great media and social media management could be Arvind Kejriwal. He made his presence felt by seizing these apps in the best way possible. In turn, he got a landslide victory.
Can’t Congress learn from that victory and work on this important front that it is lacking in?
Expertise, at every level
There is no sphere of the Indian politics which doesn’t need the attention of Rahul Gandhi. He needs to build think tanks to have his focus on these areas. These think tanks, after formation, should have regular conclaves – from village level to district level. These can then be further bifurcated into women think tanks, youth think tanks and overseas think tanks. For the need of having a holistic approach on all these fronts is inescapable.
Pace is what Congress needs
Many appreciable efforts have been put in by Rahul Gandhi in making his party’s dynamics right. But then are these enough?
He needs to act, and act fast as not too much time is left to rebuild the future of Congress. 2019 is not far. A lot needs to be done by Rahul and by Congress. It is not difficult, nor is this overpowering.
Rahul will win for sure, how long will it take depends on the collective efforts of the party. The opposition will ridicule the efforts. The world will laugh at mistakes. But Congress and Rahul will have to keep going.
As Mahatma Gandhi said – “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
They have ignored Rahul.
They have laughed at Rahul.
Let them now fight with Rahul.