Congress is facing anti- incumbency after 10 years in power, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh admitted on Thursday, saying it poses a challenge as the party lost the battle of perception as the top leadership was “not communicative”.
He acknowledged that it is a “challenging” campaign in the elections ahead but maintained that the party would get a decent, dignified and respectable three-digit number.
“Hyperactive judiciary, overactive constitutional functionaries like CAG, aggressive media and irresponsible civil society combined…”
“Our reaction was also slow. We came across…We did not communicate our point of view effectively. Our top leadership was not communicative. Politics is all about communication. So we lost the battle of perception and we did not take them seriously enough,” Ramesh said.
He was responding to a question as to what in retrospect went wrong in the last two years of UPA government to create a perception of corruption-ridden and indecisive government, pushing the party back to the wall in the elections.
However, Ramesh insisted that there was “no need to be defensive or apologetic” about the performance of UPA-II and Congress will be getting a “decent, dignified, respectable, three-digit number” in the elections.
Ramesh, however, acknowledged that after ten years in power, there is an anti-incumbency factor. “There is no doubt about that,” he said.
Criticising the BJP, the Union Minister suggested that the weakness of the party is reflected in the way it was going about forging alliances in different states.
“The fact of the matter is that there is a sign of desperation in the manner in which BJP is going about forming alliances as its footprint is limited,” he said.
BJP is having alliances in several states including in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
Asked about the government’s performance, Ramesh said there was no need to be defensive about the government’s performance as UPA delivered 8 per cent rate of growth and UPA-II 7.3 per cent.
This is as against six per cent in the NDA rule.
“We do not have to feel defensive or apologetic about our performance. There is a new paper on the Indian economy during the UPA and the NDA tenures which has demolished the myth that UPA has not performed,” he said.
Detailing some of the achievements, he said, “We lifted 14 crore people above BPL….When we came to power the number of mobile phones in India was 3.5 crores, now it is almost 90 crores. We have the lowest call rates in the world.”
Asked how the party campaign was going, he said, “The Congress campaign is very much on track.”
It is a decentralised campaign. This time you see the Congress campaigning at the candidate level, DCC level, PCC level and AICC level. Traditionally, we have focused at the AICC level. This time, there has been greater emphasis on each of the four levels.
“We have released our manifesto on March 26 while BJP is yet to release its manifesto as also its vision document. Our candidate selection has been far smoother than candidate selection of the BJP,” he maintained.