After an ignominous defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections consecutively for the second time, Congress, the grand-old party of India has decided to boycott the political debates on Indian TV channels for one month.
In a twitter message, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala stated:"INC has decided to not send spokespersons on television debates for a month. All media channels/editors are requested to not place Congress representatives on their shows."
The move has not surprised many since it shows that the grand-old party is tightening the belt to ponder its defects. Introspection is what the party needs now but boycotting the media per se may not be seen as a right gesture. Learning from the past is always the best way to start afresh.
Had the routed Congress Party shun from Andhra Pradesh in 2000, then it would not have seen its leader YS Rajasekhara Reddy staging Padayatra and staking claim to power in four years. Similarly, Jagan would not have provided a choice to the voter had he shied away from politics following his party's defeat in 2014. See the video below when Jagan said his party, indeed improved in 2014 and declared his vision for 2019:
In fact, everybody questioned Jagan's stake to power when YS Rajasekhara Reddy died in a chopper crash. Many voters were not convinced in 2014 to vote for Jagan's party as the allegations of corruption against him stared them in the face. What has changed in the last five years that the voter has overwhlemingly pitched in for Jagan over everyone else?
Leaving aside Prashant Kishore's tactical advise just ahead of the poll, Jagan stood to the ground and remained very much among the people throughout, reading their pulse, nursing their grievances and driving their anger against the ruling Telugu Desam Party. The message from him remained constant as not a single year saw him missing on his famous Padayatra, a great virtue reserved only for the opposition party. Bereft of any power, an opposition leader easily gets assimilated with the common man that a leader in power cannot. This virtue has set Jagan apart and on the road to success from the day one he conceded his defeat in May 2014 elections.
Currently, Congress has found itself in a similar situation. It has lost acceptance in the North, where the decades-old caste-based voting pattern has been enveloped by the bigger contours of religion. Secondly, the branding of a leader has become an inalienable testimony to any political party's existence. Thirdly, the mindset of a voter is not to let his elected representatives who in turn elect someone else as their leader as per the Constitution but he wants to be decisive to the point of electing even the Prime Minister himself. This change of mindset requires reflection in Congress strategy.
"Being in touch" versus "being away from the voter" is what drives the final mood of the voter. Reading the pulse of the voter is integral for every political party and Congress cannot shy away from the grass-roots level planning, whether in rural or urban areas. The bottom of the pyramid cannot be sensitivised unless an army of people work relentlessly at the ground zero. The impressive work done by RSS cadres in the last five months should not miss anybody's perception of Modi's return to power. Unless someone at the ground zero is vigilant, vibrant and wise, the leadership in Delhi cannot reap the benefits.
Instead of shying away from the media glare, Congress should strengthen its social media channels of communication on one side and penetrate more socially-relevant groups to be "just in touch" with the people. Instead of roping in influencers, it should build such influencers within. Remaining relevant should be the first mantra of Congress so that the TV channels are forced to turn their focus on what Congress says.
Every time Congress is defeated, it seeks to remain "out of touch" from the media. In 2014, Rahul Gandhi disappeared mysteriously for over a month and this time, the grand-old party is distancing itself from the media glare again for a month. Congress party certainly requires introspection at this stage but shunning the media altogether for a month is retrogressive.