1. A Counter-Ideology
In the aftermath of the Congress’ humiliating defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Congress struggled to find a counter-narrative to the BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ pitch. By referring to the Mahabharata, the Congress president has attempted to equate the 2019 election as a war between the “drunk on power” BJP and the “designed to fight for truth” Congress. Rahul Gandhi’s ideological pitch was also evident when he, early on in his speech, compared Gandhi’s fight for freedom to Savarkar’s plea for freedom. “The soil of this nation is drenched in the blood of Congressmen and Congresswomen”, he said. “Gandhiji died for India. India must never forget that when our leader was sleeping in jail, their leader, Savarkar, was writing a letter begging for mercy from the British.
2. Attack the Weak Links
“The BJP will accept a man accused of murder as their party president, but it will never be accepted in the Congress party”, said Rahul Gandhi referring to, but without naming Amit Shah. In fact, by repeatedly raking up the Supreme Judges’ revolt over, among other things, the Judge Loya case and The Wire’s report on the exponential growth in Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s wealth, the Congress seems adamant on settling into a routine with which to target PM Modi’s closest aide.
Apart from Shah, the Congress President also targeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his daughter. “You can steal Rs 33,000 crore from the banks and the BJP government will protect you. The Finance Minister will go silent because he and his daughter work for crony capitalists," he said.
3. Target Brand Modi
By uttering PM Modi’s name in the same breath as Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, the Congress president would be attempting to undermine the name that launched an electoral wave in favour of the BJP in 2014. Speaking of the three Modis in his concluding speech at the Plenary, Rahul Gandhi said – “The man who looted banks, Nirav Modi shares a similar name to the Prime Minister and the most corrupt man in cricket also shares the same name Modi. The name Modi symbolises the collusion between India's biggest crony capitalists and the Prime Minister of India.”
While speaking about the BJP’s failure to admit that demonetisation was a failure, Rahul said that unlike Modi, Congress was not afraid to admit to its mistakes. “Congress will take the country forward, but we are humans, we make mistakes. Modi ji thinks he is not human but an avatar of God”, he said.
4. Call Out the Diversionary Tactics
Rahul Gandhi accused the Modi government of diverting the people’s attention from its economic failures like demonetisation and inability to generate jobs. The Congress president said the Prime Minister had gone beyond the charade of mere ‘jumlas’ and had started peddling blatant lies to the people.
“There’s demonetisation, Gabbar Singh Tax (GST), but he tells the people – Lets do yoga. There are no jobs, farmers are committing suicide, but let’s do yoga in front of India Gate. But the Congress cannot be stopped from seeking the truth and justice”, he said.
5. Changing the Internal Dynamics
Expected to be more difficult than taking on Modi himself, affecting real change in the Congress is the biggest challenge for the party. To this effect, the Congress president announced that no longer will senior leaders be parachuted into a constituency and no longer will a hard-working party worker who may not have the money to fund his campaign, be denied a ticket to contest elections. The announcement was met with the loudest applause the 84th Congress plenary witnessed in its three days.