People are voting for Modi, not BJP: Mani Shanker Aiyertext_fields
Kasauli: Stressing that the strategy of keeping their narrative "anti-Modi" is a well-thought-of move by the I.N.D.I.A alliance, Congress member and former Minister of Panchayati Raj, Mani Shanker Aiyer, said the ruling BJP has a much smaller share of public support, but owing to Modi's admiration among the voters, the party has managed to garner impressive numbers.
"Therefore, the targeting is just perfect. Also, so many of his claims are simply bogus, which must be brought to light by I.N.D.I.A through intense campaigns. The alliance should provide exciting alternatives that will ignite public opinion," he said during an interview.
The veteran Congressman feels it is a major achievement that so many parties have gathered together and announced an alliance.
He added that the Mumbai conclave was special as it was attended by Sonia Gandhi, who has been instrumental in "inspiring" different political parties.
"Now, we are getting the alliance on the same page in terms of seats over an adequate number. A lot of work is being done behind closed doors," Aiyer said.
"There was a feeling that BJP seemed unbeatable. As far as the timing is concerned, I feel sometimes the paucity of time can be a positive element as it can ascertain quick decisions," he said on the sidelines of the recently concluded Khushwant Singh LitFest where he was invited as a speaker.
Acknowledging the BJP and RSS's well-established network of grassroots volunteers and booth managers, which spans both urban areas, their traditional stronghold, and remote rural regions, equipped with a sophisticated feedback system, the former Congress MP from Mayiladuthurai (1991, 1999, and 2004) and special invitee to the Congress Working Committee pointed out that this is reminiscent of what the Congress could proudly claim before independence.
"Frankly, it is our cumulative failure over all these years that we have allowed Congress to come to this stage. Considering we are such an old party, there used to be this assumption that we were a voting machine -- something the BJP is addressed as now. However, we could not have stayed in power for these decades if we did not have a strong organisation at the grassroots level," Aiyar said.
In an age when most political parties consider hiring independent political strategists/advisers almost indispensable, a trend that shot Prashant Kishor to the limelight, the Congress leader says that while Kishor expressed interest in rebuilding the Congress, he demanded a place in the hierarchy.
"That was something completely unacceptable to us. He was lucky to have arrived at the political scene in 2014 with the technology that had never been used before -- something which the BJP accepted immediately. Let us not forget that the current government's victory in 2014 was largely due to the many mistakes made by the UPA. But what has he done after the West Bengal Assembly polls? He is wandering in Bihar, and I don't think he has made any impact there."
Stressing it is premature to talk about the leader of the I.N.D.I.A alliance, the Congress member says it is for all the members to take a collective call.
While stressing the rise in Rahul Gandhi's popularity ratings post the 'Bharat Jodo' yatra, he concludes, "The alliance will be his true test."
With inputs from IANS