New Delhi, May 9: Sonia Gandhi’s concern over the Congress failure to win the perception war came to the fore again today when she implored MPs to forcefully counter the propaganda against the party and the Manmohan Singh government.
Addressing the Congress parliamentary party after a long gap, Sonia expressed her frustration by lamenting that it had almost become fashionable to criticise the government. Instead of dwelling on organisational infirmities, governmental follies and political challenges, she appeared to suggest that the real problem lay in perception management.
“We must speak forcefully and with confidence on what we have achieved, and there is much we have to show despite difficult economic times. We must project our government’s many accomplishments and our ambitious legislative agenda. And we must expose the Opposition’s doublespeak and its obstructive behaviour in blocking parliamentary proceedings,” she said.
Asserting that “we must not allow the negative propaganda to deflect us”, Sonia said: “We must draw upon the lessons of the previous polls as we approach a series of state elections in the coming months. We must project our work as the central government and expose the hollow claims of Opposition-ruled state governments. Misgovernance and corruption have been widespread in some of these states as revealed by the CAG and lokayukta reports.”
So concerned is the Congress chief about the image crisis that she linked the failure to confront it to groupism in the party. She said: “Most important, we must shed all manner of factional behaviour and fight as one disciplined team at all levels. That will be the single most important factor to decide whether we win or lose. People look to us — but we need to show them our commitment if we are to convert this sentiment into electoral victories.”
Sources in the party have conceded that the image crisis has deeply troubled her for some time, particularly after the 2G scam and the Anna Hazare agitation. Her thinking has now been endorsed by the Antony committee report, which listed the inability to win the perception war as one of the main causes of decline in the party’s fortunes.