Dear Congressman, Don’t Blame Dentsu

Illustration: Biju Naorem
Illustration: Biju Naorem

The wise men who assemble for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting come prepared with only one thing: a scapegoat. That it gets everyone else’s goat is something they can’t be bothered with, even as the grand old party is reduced to a marginal player. Is that right? Okay, then it must be because of Dentsu. Those Japanese guys really made off with our Rs 600 crore. Get them out of sight and bring on the soothing orchestra of the Dwivedis and Makens, Singhs and Sanghvis, with the occasional Aiyar cymbal.

The saviours of the ark might be on the right track, though. A&M has been the weakest link for the Congress and a pack of MBAs comprising Team Modi have outsmarted the combined efforts of the government, party and Dentsu. Where the wise men fell short, either through a deliberate device or continued ignorance, is naming Manish Tewari. If Dentsu is responsible, then Tewari should get the broomstick. The pompous, verbose I&B minister could not come up with a single original plan that could enhance his own party’s image or dent others. The ones he came up with — Bharat Nirman and Social Media Unit — were so lame both in concept and implementation that they must seem dated even to the late Pramod Mahajan, who whipped up the India Shining slogan with the same I&B team.

Tewari then committed the cardinal sin of not contesting from his Ludhiana seat. The only correct feedback he had received from his ministry was that he should avoid a contest. The rats had been forewarned. He was careful never to make an adverse comment against Narendra Modi in any of his sound bites from January onwards and then feigned illness while deliberately making a fake claim for a ticket from Chandigarh. He exemplifies the hordes who supped at the UPA table and then prepared to slink away as the winds changed. Tewari rounded off his sad tenure by suggesting that the I&B ministry should be scrapped. In the coming years, he will receive delightful news of how well the ministry is performing in further enhancing Modi’s image. Not a word or visual out of place.

After the Delhi Assembly debacle, Rahul Gandhi claimed that he would learn from AAP. But like all things Congress, he did exactly that: unlearn while distributing tickets to pall-bearers and established thugs. Meanwhile, AAP made long strides both in Delhi and Punjab. Its sparkling collection of lawyers, activists, doctors, actors and bankers has made an indelible mark on the political landscape. If Rahul needed proof that he should have made wholesale changes and given tickets mostly to the educated and the untainted, then it comes in the form of Nandan Nilekani, who lost but more than 4 lakh voted for him. Compare this with Ajit Jogi, who claimed sanyas after the Assembly loss, only to put pressure on Rahul into giving him a Lok Sabha ticket. People rejected him with a painful 1,200- vote margin. Ooh, that hurts.

But, perhaps, the biggest joker in Rahul’s pack was Madhusudan Mistry, who impressed the Congress vice-president by crunching numbers, but delivered the all-time low in Vadodara: 570,000. Mistry, a nowhere man with a dubious NGO background, also milked the Karnataka and Kerala Assembly victories to his credit because he was the general secretary in-charge. By the same yardstick, he has again delivered the all-time stinker in Uttar Pradesh. The two Gujaratis in the All India Congress Committee — Mistry and Ahmed Patel, who crowded out everyone else from the scene — were no match for the real one.

It is time for every leader, big and small, every journalist, aligned or free, and every NGO, foreign-funded or local, to suggest remedies for the Congress’ resurrection. The leaders will say what suits them most: rejig the CWC and bring me in, give this man the boot and the other a kick, but let us all remain faithful leeches. The journalists will go on a tangent, suggesting unpragmatic ideas and then join the party that gives them a ticket or makes them spokesmen to defend the very tenets they wrote against. The NGOs just want to cry hoarse and collect their funds. The real ones are working out there. But really, the only way out for the Congress is to resurrect the Gandhis. Market them and make them saleable again. For that, they will not need Dentsu, but a new breed of loyal and educated workers. A la Modi.

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