New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh was at it again. This time he tweeted an image of Prime Narendra Modi along with an abusive meme. Singh claimed the original creator of the meme was someone else but he “couldn’t help posting it”.
It’s not the first time he has embarrassed his party. On previous occasions, he had called terrorist Osama bin Laden ‘Osama ji’, and Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed ‘Hafiz Sahab’, causing much discomfort. Once he even targeted his own fellow party leader Meenakshi Natarajan terming her “a 100 per cent tunch maal”.
The said tweet on PM Modi has since been removed and an embarrassed Congress party has distanced itself from it. Later, talking to the media, Singh said he does not endorse the tweet and refuses to own it. But the damage had already been done.
The incident is indication again of Congress leaders refusing to learn lessons despite a series of electoral defeats. They remain blissfully unaware of the fact that Modi in the past has smartly turned these personal attacks into an opportunity. These verbal bouts have helped the BJP polarise voters and expose the opposition’s vulnerabilities.
Take the example of infamous ‘maut ka saudagar’ (merchant of death) comment made by Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the 2007 Gujarat Assembly election to target Modi, who was then the Gujarat chief minister.
Congress leadership hoped the comment would help capitalize votes by bringing memories of 2002 riots to the fore. Instead, Sonia Gandhi’s comment backfired, ending up polarizing voters towards the Modi-led BJP. With just 59 seats, the Congress came a distant second in the state.
Despite the Gujarat blunder, Congress leaders fail to learn lessons especially when polls are around the corner.
It is well documented fact how senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘chaiwala’ jibe ended up badly wounding the party just prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. His comment that Gujarat CM Modi would never become India’s PM but he can sell tea at AICC meet was instantly lapped up by Modi and the BJP.
Modi tactfully used the barb to his own advantage to highlight his humble origins and attack the Congress for not stomaching the rise of someone from not an elite background. BJP’s ‘Chai pe charcha’ owes itself to Aiyar’s jibe.
Similarly, during campaigning for the all crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls last year, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi accused PM Modi of doing ‘Khoon ki dalali’ with the blood of soldiers. The comment was made in the backdrop of surgical strike conducted by the Indian Army. The cross LoC action on terror camps by India’s elite forces received much public applause and appreciation. Gandhi clearly failed to read the public mood and the comment backfired badly. The Uttar Pradesh verdict is known to all.
Digvijay Singh’s tweet (now deleted) comes at a time when Congress is gearing up for the critical Gujarat and Himachal polls. The party is buoyant after senior leader Ahmad Patel recently managed to save his Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat in a nail-biting finish. The Party expects to better its recent performance.
But with comments like those made by the likes of Digvijay Singh revival hopes are distant yet.