After series of goof-ups in public glare, Congress’ media department shake-up an expected move

But the ‘yes-no-very well’ fiasco over Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Chinese envoy Lau Zhaohui amid the tri-junction standoff brought the internal contradictions of the party, out in the open.

Published: 14th July 2017 02:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2017 08:32 AM   |  A+A-

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala (File | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: It’s been brewing for a while. But the ‘yes-no-very well’ fiasco over Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Chinese envoy Lau Zhaohui amid the tri-junction standoff brought the internal contradictions of the old political party, out in the open.

The resultant shake-up in the media department that the Congress witnessed on Thursday was only to be expected because this was not the first time that the party was caught making a faux pas in full public glare. Whether it was demonetisation, the surgical strike or GST, it seemed, the Congress had lost the plot and the narrative, along with the ability to clinch elections in its favor.

The BJP government decided the agenda, the main Opposition Congress only reacted to it. Nitish Kumar told Sonia Gandhi as much.

An internal survey too showed, the party was being beaten hollow on the social media front and simply failing to catch the eyeball on the main street. If the PM’s Twitter account boasts of 31.5 million followers, Rahul Gandhi’s is barely 2.5 million, the gap is too glaring.

A media mishandling of a meeting of the party’s vice president with the Chinese envoy proved to be a bit too much. The party was left looking so confused that Rahul had to come in his own defense.

What was more embarrassing, Rahul’s statement came as an utter contradiction to the ‘fake news’ claim made by the Congress’ chief media coordinator Randeep Singh Surjewala and senior party leader Anand Sharma. 

Prior to that, the party’s media cell similarly appeared directionless regarding GST. Finally, after much dithering, the party boycotted the event.

But the opposition unity was in tatters. Not many of its allies, like NCP, JD-U, were ready to see it as an affront on Nehru.

Next day, many of the senior leaders who’ve now been drafted for setting the party line—Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma—were all lined to attack the government ‘midnight brouhaha’ over a tax reform, but the message was lost in the multiplicity of voices.

Nonetheless, the Congress ‘high command’ has chosen to bring back the same old war horses to put the house in order.

Apart from Kharge, Azad, Sharma and Ramesh, Mani Shankar Aiyar and P Chidambaram make a formal comeback into the party’s media-cum-ideating team. So do two ‘young leaders’, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sushmita Dev.

The new strategy group—which can also be called the Rakabgunj gang—is expected to meet every morning and prepare the party line.

With two years left before the 2019 contest, the Congress is hoping to regain the plot thus, so as to look less beaten than before.

Surjewala too will be part of the team but as an ex-officio member. Rajeev Gowda, the party’s chief research brain, has also been inducted, clearly to add more substance.


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