Two days back, replying to pointed questions thrown by Raj Thackeray, Sharad Pawar said that only the Congress had the ability to challenge the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party presently. Not only that, he rightly pointed out where BJP is going wrong and how Rahul Gandhi is maturing. While taking an indirect barb at Modi, he taunted that irrespective of differences in political ideologies, ‘elders must be accorded respect always’ and the recent attack on India’s first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ‘was not proper’. Thackeray was interviewing him at a public function organised by Jagtik Marathi Academy.
Well, Pawar responded to wide-ranging questions for nearly 90 minutes.
Yes this is very true that most of the leaders in BJP are good orators in comparison to the same in the Congress. There are some very significant and important points that make this difference between the two. But looking at over all politics, people accepted Congress most of the time; their defeat is on specific intervals but Congress ruled the country for long years, while BJP leaders are loud mouth and incapable. Congress has many able leaders whereas BJP has one most important leader, without whom the party has no substance.
On the other hand, Sharad Pawar is one of India’s strongest and most deep-rooted politicians. His appearance is striking; he looks as if nothing would get past him. If Shiv Sena continues on its disruptive path, Pawar’s NCP could conceivably pitch all the parties against BJP as one big alliance. After becoming the chief minister of Maharashtra at the age of 37, Pawar was regarded in 1991 as the likely next Congress prime minister, only for the job to go to PV Narasimha Rao. In 1999, he moved against Sonia Gandhi over her ‘foreign origins’. He broke away to form the Nationalist Congress Party, but five years later realigned with Congress and took over the departments of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. Pawar still has very high political ambitions, for that he can go to any extent and whatever he plans, his roles remain important in state politics. Without his backing and support, 2014 wouldn’t have been easy for BJP in Maharashtra. Pawar was instrumental in Congress defeat in the state.
BJP, after coming to power, could not sustain with people’s faith in them. Somewhere, most of their voters shifted from them. In the past, the Congress had a strong organisational presence in the districts, states and all over India. That is not so now, the party is changing. However, even (Congress President) Rahul Gandhi is also changing. He is willing to learn and only the Congress can give a challenge to the BJP in future and we have seen the trailer in Gujarat elections.
Congress leaders can maintain status quo with their ostrich-like attitude that Rahul Gandhi is a mass leader — this would please none more than BJP. Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani had gone on record saying Rahul Gandhi’s elevation will usher in ‘achhe din’ for her party. Ground realities reveal that she is not far off the mark. Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi face-off in 2019 general election is likely to result in a one-sided win for BJP.
For leaders like Jairam Ramesh advocating for a full takeover of the party by Rahul Gandhi, there is an Ajit Jogi who has joined the long list of loyalists having quit the party being disgruntled with Rahul’s leadership. Jogi makes the point of people who speak good English or writes speeches; need not necessarily become good leaders.
There is no doubt that BJP has had leaders who are extremely good orators right from Vajpayee, L K Advani (in his early days), Modi, Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani being the latest. It’s not that Congress doesn’t have good orators as their leaders. It’s just that they don’t speak too often that seems to have created this air of misconception. They did not speak when they were in power nor are they much more vocal now. This is due to the fact that the Gandhis are the face of the Congress since a long time. A common man in the farthest corner of India would be more attentive towards what Gandhis say rather than any other Congressman. Congress, probably, knows this and makes sure that it has to be a Gandhi to communicate the stand of their party to the masses. It’s purely a case of the magnetic effect of your leader. For example, if Shashi Tharoor addresses a public rally in Kerala and gives an extremely powerful speech about India’s foreign policies, will a poor fellow living in some village in the North East listen to it with the same curiosity as he would listen to a Modi or a Sonia or a Rahul? It’s a case of paying selective attention. Because of this reason, the leaders of the Congress choose to speak only when needed.
BJP, on the other hand, has had to stay in opposition for quite a long time. So, it was strategically important for them to form a team of leaders who could constantly scrutinise and criticise the ruling party. This led to the formation of a rank of good orators who stepped forward and took charge. They went on to become the influential leaders of BJP. As a result, they developed a team of leaders who were good with words and were not afraid to call a spade a spade.
As far as Congress is concerned, they have had leaders who were/are extremely good orators — Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Ajay Maken, Jairam Ramesh, Late Vilasrao Deshmukh, etc. Among young leaders, they have Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia who are popular orators among the young masses. The wild card of Congress is Priyanka Gandhi, who even the opposition parties of Congress admire, for her oratory skills and the ability to attract the masses.
Ultimately in politics, it does not matter about how much you speak but what you speak that matters. It’s how effectively you are able to communicate your message. It’s also about whom the people love to listen. There are many people who might not support Lalu Yadav but are all ears whenever he speaks, same goes with Raj Thackrey, I personally like when he speaks, and he is ditto Balasaheb. On the contrary, we have Kejriwal who speaks a lot but many a times people choose to ignore what he speaks. In 2019, it would be all about performance than the speeches. And amid of all equations, Pawar would be the powerhouse and Congress the main player for sure.
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