Humbled last time, set to woo voters again

Reduced to just 8 seats, Cong says it won't be just a BJP vs AAP fight again

We do not want to make promises that bring the sky down,” says Haroon Yusuf, ex-Congress Legislature Party leader.

The Congress claims it is not a bipolar electoral battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi.

For the Congress, aggressive use of social media, mohalla sabhas and roadshows are “desperate publicity stunts” to reach out to people. It says it doesn’t feel threatened by the “new techniques” of the AAP.

 “Now, the party leader is talking of making entire Delhi Wi-Fi. He doesn’t find mohalla sabhas effective anymore. (Arvind) Kejriwal is the most power-crazy politician I have ever seen,” says Yusuf.

The BJP, on the other hand, has little stability, the Congress leaders would like to believe. “The last time they were in power in 1993, there were three chief ministers in those five years.”

The youth will also see through the tall promises of the BJP which is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brand image to “lure” voters, he says. “Today’s youth are more alive to situation.”

There would be no major overhaul in the campaigning process. The Congress wants to stick to its conservative means of campaigning.

To strike a chord with the youth, it is planning to exploit the social media slightly more than before.

“The party’s social media department will connect with the youth. But our social media department is not to lure away people with mere slogans. During campaigning, we will go with fact and not fiction. We are not here to fool people.”

The Congress wants to promise only what it can “deliver” to voters. Development will be the main agenda of this election’s manifesto.

“With time, the aspirations have changed. And, we have to penetrate that. The focus of the manifesto will be on boosting the social sector, education, transport and infrastructure of the Capital.”

The leader says that the Congress cannot afford to fluctuate from one agenda to the other like the AAP which “can’t stick to one thing”.

“AAP leader promised the slum dwellers pucca houses in his letter. He only believes in making tall promises.”

After a hung Assembly in 2013, the Congress with its eight MLAs had lent “unconditional support” to the AAP to form a government in the Capital. However, a repeat move is not an option this time.

The Congress heavyweight denies that it made a mistake.
“We do not call it a mistake. Had they not formed the government, it would not have been exposed that they were only here to make hollow promises and then run away in 49 days. Also, the BJP and the AAP are in collusion with each other.”

Claiming that development has stalled since the Congress was voted out of power, Yusuf says that voters’ faith in the Congress is still intact.

“The people of Delhi got carried away once. Now they know the truth.”
“For the first time, Metro projects have been delayed. There are parts in Delhi where there is no power for four days at a stretch. What about the steep increase in price of potatoes, onions and other vegetables despite promises that the price rise of such items will be curbed? Such things never happened when the Congress was in power,” says Yusuf.

Admitting that Delhi is in a precarious political situation, Yusuf says the party is still sure that they will bag a majority of seats. “We do want to anticipate the number of seats that we might win. But we are definitely fighting to win the elections. We will definitely form the government.”

He dismissed rumours of friction inside the party. In fact, the mood of the party is quite upbeat, especially among “enthusiastic” young party workers, he says.

Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar being “senior leaders” of the party will be assigned their due responsibilities in campaigning for the party, Yusuf says. The duo are controversial leaders for their alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

If the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) decides to fight the upcoming polls in Delhi after their sound performance in Maharashtra, the Congress claims it is not worried about losing out on the vote share of the minority communities. It is still banking on its image as a “secular party” to bag a considerable number of votes from the marginalised communities.

“Parties like MIM, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) promote communalisation of politics. They want to infuse hatred among people. These parties do not want development to happen. Voters know the Congress would never indulge in such tactics,” he says.

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