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Congress needs team dedicated to polls: Karti Chidambaram

Lok Sabha member from Sivaganga Karti Chidambaram. File   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Elections are now a 24x7/365 day phenomena and the Congress party needs to have an election preparedness committee with a general secretary, whose sole task is to be election-ready, Lok Sabha member from Sivaganga Karti Chidambaram said on Sunday.

The Lok Sabha MP, who had earlier endorsed senior party leader Kapil Sibal’s critical assessment of Congress’ performance in the recently concluded Assembly election in Bihar, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu suggested that the party should put in place a plan that can tackle “BJP's well-oiled election machine”.

Bargaining chip

“There is this new terminology called strike rate that has come into electoral politics. Our strike rate seems to be lower than that of our allies in elections. So these factors are being used now by our potential allies in the upcoming elections to browbeat us into contesting lesser or a limited number of seats. That is not necessarily true because each State election is different,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

“Congress is not just a mere addition but a multiplier. In Tamil Nadu, for example, we bring greater value when we are in an alliance compared to when we contest alone,” he added.

Also read: Post Bihar, Congress may find it difficult in bargains for seats

The MP from Tamil Nadu admitted that Congress’ performance in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections (2014 and 2019) has not been “stellar” — cumulatively winning less than 100 seats — and needs a strong counter strategy.

“It is imperative for us to understand that the BJP is a well-oiled election machine in terms of preparedness, resources, planning, social media campaign and data. To counter it, we need to have a well thought-out strategy which can’t be rolled out just before the elections. It has to be something which needs to be done well in advance,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Ideas need traction

He argued that election campaigns need time for traction and cited the example of Congress' pre-poll promise of NYAY [nyuntam aay yojana].

Nyay or the minimum income support scheme may have delivered in the Hindi heartland States if it was rolled out four-five months prior to the Lok Sabha elections, he said.

“I think it was announced too late and it didn’t actually seep into the psyche and the mental space of the average voter. If the Nyay scheme was announced four or five months earlier and our campaign was centred around that scheme, maybe we would have had better results.”

Arguing for keeping the process of candidate selection and alliances separate from larger election strategies, Mr. Chidambaram said, “I would like to see a full time election preparedness committee, headed perhaps by a general secretary-elections.”

“The general secretary-elections should have a 100-day marker for every State before a potential notification of elections and a 100-day roll out plan to communicate what the Congress stands for. It is purely about communicating the agenda to the electorate in advance,” the MP said.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 1:30:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-needs-team-dedicated-to-polls-karti-chidambaram/article33154708.ece

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