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Congress Can No Longer Get Votes Using Nehru, Indira's Names: Chidambaram

Chidambaram said that things have changed from the time when the Congress was an "unchallenged" political party in India and stressed on the need to strengthen it at the booth level.


Updated:July 28, 2018, 11:12 PM IST
Congress Can No Longer Get Votes Using Nehru, Indira's Names: Chidambaram
P Chidambaram at the project 'Shakti' launch in Bengaluru on Saturday. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak)

Bengaluru: Asking party workers to brace for a tough battle in 2019, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said earlier all that the party had to do was take Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s names to get votes, but now they will have to work and strengthen base at the booth levels to win the elections.

He further added that things had changed from the time when the Congress was an "unchallenged" political party in India and stressed on the need to strengthen it at the booth level.

"There was a time when all that the Congress had to do was to mention the name of Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi and then millions of people would simply come to the booth and vote," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram also asked his party workers not to get fooled by the "BJP's propaganda of a Congress-mukt Bharat", saying if at all there was a "mukt Bharat, it would be BJP-mukt".

"It is a booth-wise election now, which is why in every booth we must be present... We must have enough people in every booth... What matters now is the number of feet on the ground," he added.

He said, that was the time when the Congress was an "unchallenged" political party in India, but things had changed, as they would in any country.

"Today more political parties have come to play important roles and more regional political parties have come," he said, addressing party men after launching project 'Shakti' in Bengaluru on Saturday.

The former finance minister said that there were only two parties today which had a national footprint -- one was the Congress, and the other was the BJP.

"Don't let the BJP fool us. Don't be overawed by the BJP's propaganda that they can ever build or have a Congress-mukt Bharat, that is simply not going to happen," he said.

Chidambaram said sometimes the party's presence was strong, and sometimes it was not as strong and added that these things would change.

"Just because, say, we lose an election in Gujarat, does not mean that we are not present in that state. We are present in Gujarat, but we just missed it. We just missed it by a whisker," he said.

Chidambaram claimed that in Karnataka, the presence of the Congress was stronger than that of the BJP, as the party secured 38 per cent vote, while, the BJP got 36 per cent.

"We had 2 per cent advantage in votes, but we had a 24 seat deficit," he said, adding that the analysis showed that in coastal Karnataka the BJP's vote share went up to 50 per cent but in old Mysuru it dropped to almost 17 per cent.

The vote can go up in some areas and come down in some, which means it can make a big difference to the seats, said Chidambaram and claimed that the Congress' presence was more or less uniform across the state.

He launched project 'Shakti' in Karnataka for the Congress workers, with an aim to strengthen the party's ground organisation by connecting workers across every booth, village, block, town and districts.

Party workers could enroll in the project by sending an SMS containing their voter ID card number to a dedicated number, party officials said, adding that 'Shakti' would enable booth-level workers to engage with local leadership on various issues.

Emphasising the need for micro-management of every booth, Chidambaram set August 15 as the deadline for enrollment of lakhs of the workers for the project.

"Massive enrollment should take place beginning today and we must have some result by August 15...

I'm absolutely sure with Project Shakti the Congress will multiply its numbers dramatically and in months to come we will have a very strong ground force and get ready for the Parliament election whenever it takes place," he added.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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