AA Edit | Congress must build own narrative, not flay BJP's

Congress leaders must disabuse themselves of the thought that they still control the national narrative

When it announced the dangerously undemocratic slogan “Congress-mukt Bharat”, the BJP would have thought the mission would be accomplished by its own effort alone and that it will have to overcome the resistance from the grand old party and those who believe in the idea of democracy. But the Congress looks like it is giving its archrival a helping hand.

The latest is Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s statement that the government has produced no evidence of the Indian Army’s surgical strike on Pakistani territory in retaliation for the Pulwama attack; nor did it make a statement in Parliament about it. Mr Singh was making a plain statement to qualify his serious charge that the NDA government was economical with the truth herein. But Mr Singh needs to explain why he chose to resurrect an incident which the BJP used to the hilt in the last Lok Sabha election. Does he, or the party, have serious doubts about the government’s claim? Is the party or Mr Singh in possession of some new pieces of evidence to debunk the government’s theory? For the record, the party’s reaction is negative; it is saying that this is Mr Singh’s position and not that of the Congress. Both party president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi have dismissed Mr Singh’s position.

The Congress, and other Opposition parties, must realise that the BJP catapulted itself to power not by denying the allegations and insinuations levelled at itself or its leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but by making the most of them. A distasteful comment by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar about Mr Modi’s claim of being a tea seller while a boy was not challenged; instead it was used. Mr Aiyar’s later comment on the kind of politics Mr Modi practises was given a spin and used against him and the party in such a way that Mr Aiyar had to be disowned by the party.

The BJP has perfected the art of being the sole arbitrator of patriotism, nationalism and Hindutva. Like all rightist forces, the BJP places the prestige of the defence forces ahead of all other national concerns and chooses to brandish pride in the uniform if it cannot face questions. In the latest edition of the exchanges, the BJP spokesperson made Mr Singh’s salvo look like an attack on the Army and declared that the country will not tolerate anyone speaking against the security forces. The party never wastes a minute to deflect the questions the Opposition raises against the government on developments on the border to the defence forces.

Congress leaders must disabuse themselves of the thought that they still control the national narrative. They have long lost touch with the real politics; their grandstanding and condescending tone do not wash against the BJP under Mr Modi, a communicator par excellence. It would be better for the party and its leadership to set its own agenda and try and convince the people about it instead of giving ammunition to the BJP to accomplish its mission against the Opposition.

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