Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Congress set narrative with sharp campaign devoid of 'agar magar', put Prime Minister on back foot: Jairam Ramesh

In an interview on the last day of campaigning for the seven-phase elections, the Congress general secretary, in-charge communications, claimed that the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) will get a clear and decisive majority of the type it got in 2004.
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 07:55 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 07:55 IST

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New Delhi: The Congress set the narrative during the Lok Sabha polls with a sharp campaign that was devoid of 'agar-magar, kintu parantu' and pushed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 'back foot', senior party leader Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.

In an interview with PTI on the last day of campaigning for the seven-phase elections, the Congress general secretary, in-charge communications, claimed that the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A.) will get a clear and decisive majority of the type it got in 2004.

"After the first two phases, it had become clear to me and I am sure, clear to any unbiased, non-partisan observer, that winds of change are blowing. 'Dakshin mein BJP saaf, uttar mein BJP half' (wiped out in the south and reduced to half in the north)," Ramesh said.

As the campaigning draws to a close, Ramesh said the first shot at creating a new narrative for the Congress was fired by Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The yatra was held between September 2022 and January 2023.

The 144 days, 4,000-km walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir was a very transformative movement for the Congress and for Indian politics, he said.

"He (Gandhi) constantly saying that 'main nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabbat ki dukaan kholne aaya hu' was the theme. What gave structure to the 2024 campaign was the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra (this year) in which Gandhi had unveiled the 'paanch nyay pachchees guarantee'," Ramesh said.

He said the Congress's 'guarantee cards', which state the party's promises under the 'Yuva Nyay, Kisaan Nyay, Nari Nyay, Shramik Nyay and the Hissedaari Nyay' themes, have reached almost seven crore households in the country.

"We have set the narrative. The narrative was set by Mr Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, and that was the direct consequence of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. It made the PM (Narendra Modi) defensive, it pushed him on the back foot. I have not seen the PM as nervous as disturbed and as off-balance as I have seen him in this campaign," Ramesh said.

Asked if the Congress was able to reach out to people more successfully than compared to that in the 2014 and 2019 polls, he said the Bharat Jodo Yatra was transformative and gave connectivity to Rahul Gandhi and collectivity to the organisation.

"This was taken forward, given a structure, five themes, different guarantees, were announced in different places. I think our narrative was stronger, sharper, clearer, there was no 'agar magar, no kintu parantu'. I think this is what the future of the Congress is -- we have to have ideological clarity, we have to be very clear in what we believe in and what we communicate," the Congress general secretary said.

"Right at the beginning, two years ago, I had said our policy as far as communications is concerned should be ACT -- A for aggression, C for cohesion and T for timeliness. So you have to be aggressive, you have to be cohesive and you have to be timely, and then you set the narrative," said Ramesh, who was appointed as the AICC general secretary in-charge of communication in June 2022.

Noting that elections have been held on 486 seats in six phases with the last phase to be held on Saturday, the Congress leader said he has no doubt that the INDIA 'janbandhan' will get a 'clear and decisive' majority of the type it got in 2004.

"Let me also say this because soon there will be the inevitable doctored exit polls. In 2004, all the exit polls gave a huge majority to Mr (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and the NDA, but the actual result proved otherwise," Ramesh told PTI.

He said there was no wave in the election but a quiet movement of people and different issues have worked in different states.

In terms of Punjab, it is the farmers' issues, in Haryana, it is the farmers' and the Agniveer issues, while in Himachal Pradesh it is the Agniveer issue and the 'discrimination of the central government by not declaring the unprecedented floods a national calamity', Ramesh said.

There are also caste equations, he added.

"In Rajasthan we got zero seats, in Madhya Pradesh we got one seat, this is all in 2019. The BJP had peaked in many states in 2019. Even the Election Commission will not help the BJP cross the 2019 peak. It has to come down," Ramesh said.

The Congress general secretary said it was Rahul Gandhi who has repeatedly said that the Congress is fighting the election to save the Constitution.

"The RSS did not support the Constitution, they said that it is not inspired by Manuwadi ideals. They had to accept it under compulsion," Ramesh alleged.

The prime minister should answer two questions as to whether he is in favour of caste census and whether he will remove the 50 per cent cap on reservations.

Ramesh emphasised that the Congress is committed to conducting a caste census and increasing the 50 per cent cap on reservations.

"The '400 paar' was linked to removing the Ambedkar constitution and replacing it with an RSS constitution," he alleged. The BJP's target is winning more than 370 Lok Sabha seats and the NDA the goal is getting more than 400.

Holding a copy of the Constitution in his hand, Ramesh said this became the defining book of the election campaign. He said among the great achievements of the Congress campaign was to force the prime minister to say Adani and Ambani and associate them with black money.

"I am sure he was on the defensive. He got irritated with our reference to him as outgoing PM as well. In one of the speeches he said 'they are not using outgoing PM now'. He was nervous, he was on the defensive," he claimed.

The Rajya Sabha MP also said he has seen campaigns since 1989 and his own involvement in campaigns started in 1991. "I can tell you there has never been this level of discourse on the part of the prime minister. The words PM has used, the lies that he has used, the defamations that he has resorted to, he is unworthy of being PM. In any case he is an outgoing PM," Ramesh said.

Campaign for the seventh phase of the polls ends Thursday evening and polling for it would take place on June 1. Counting of votes is on June 4.

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Published 30 May 2024, 07:55 IST

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