Party image dented by allegations of corruption: Chacko

Party image dented by allegations of corruption: Chacko

Party image dented by allegations of corruption: Chacko

General elections are less than a year away. Political parties are gearing up for the mega battle. Amidst allegations of serial scams, Congress recently reshuffled the party organisation, hoping to give a moral boost to its cadres.

Ajith Athrady of Deccan Herald spoke to senior Congress leader and spokesperson P C Chacko on the party’s strategy for  the coming Lok Sabha polls. Edited excerpts:

Your party government at the Centre is at the receiving end of a stream of corruption charges?

Yes, Congress image has been dented by these allegations. Though there is no truth in any of these charges, due to propaganda by Opposition political parties and media, our public image  has been been spoiled. But we shall overcome by telling the people the truth.

How can you blame malicious propaganda when a constitutional body such as the Comptroller and Auditor General has faulted the government, particularly with reference to 2G spectrum and coal block allocation?

There are no facts in CAG reports. Where is the corruption; where is
the money trail? Not a single investigative agency has been able to find
fault with the policy decisions of the government.

How will you overcome the corruption charges?

We have provided good governance for two consecutive terms and introduced an array of pro-people schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and Right to Information Act. Another major pro-poor initiative will be national food security bill, which will guarantee foodgrains to 67 per cent of country’s population and land acquisition bill, which will ensure higher price to owners parting with land. These are all our achievements and we will go to the people with them.

Both food security and land acquisition bills were stalled in Parliament?

We will convince the Opposition parties about the urgency to pass these two bills. We hope they will supportus.

Who is your party’s face for the general elections?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi will lead our poll campaign. Rahul is the driving force of the party for the poll as he will galvanise the young party workers as well as the voters. There is unanimity in Congress on this issue.

It will be Rahul vs Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi then?

No, where is Modi? Modi’s elevation as chairman of campaign committee has led to a vertical divide within BJP. With the saffron party losing many of its old partners like JD (U), the BJP will soon dump Modi to save the party. The BJP is replete with Prime Ministerial aspirants and factions. To top it all, the RSS dictates terms to the party.  

Are you afraid of Modi?

Never, why should we be afraid? In fact, elevation of Modi will help Congress to some extent as it can consolidate its voter base like minority votes. As Modi is not acceptable to all sections, Congress will benefit from it. Moreover, many BJP leaders themselves don’t like Modi’s dictatorial style.

Next elections will be Congress vs BJP or UPA vs NDA?

Where is the NDA? It is a sinking ship. With most of its major partners like Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party, and JD (U) having deserted it, the NDA is left with few sectarian partners.  Modi elevation will further erode the organisation. Though UPA too lost some partners like DMK and Trinamool Congress, these parties may return to us in coming days as we are more acceptable to them.

What is your party’s strategy for the next elections?

Two major pro-poor programmes - food security bill and land acquisition bill - will be our poll plank. Besides, stable government provided by the UPA at the Centre for two terms will be a plus point. Economic reforms, controlling inflation, providing highest minimum support price for farmers’ produce, increasing agricultural productivity are among our achievements. We will tell the people our development story.

Who is your PM candidate? Manmohan Singh has said Rahul is the natural leader of UPA III?

We don’t want to declare our PM candidate now. Indeed, Rahul is our leader and will be in the forefront of our campaign. Though partymen desire Rahul’s elevation, he is reluctant to assume the top spot as he wants to concentrate on the organisation and introduce democratic systems. Rahul is not an aspirant of any post. He is not like Modi.


In search of a winning strategy

Cong's pro-poor initiatives will hold it in good stead