Ajay Maken, AICC general secretary and head of the party’s communication department, speaks about the impact of social media, why it is too early to announce a PM candidate and why Modi has his facts wrong. This session was moderated by Manoj CG of The Indian Express.
Manoj CG: How difficult is your job as head of the Congress’ communication department?
It is difficult because the Congress is a big party and perhaps no other party is as geographically spread out. We have people from our party with different mindsets on different issues. So making all of them speak in one voice as Rahulji said in the communication workshop we held on July 22 and 23 is the biggest challenge. Making all the Congress spokespersons and the entire party speak in one uniform voice throughout the country is the biggest challenge. In the present era of social media and electronic media being active 24 hours, contrary views from different leaders project a very poor image of the party. The impression that goes out is that the party doesn’t work as one cohesive unit.
DK Singh: Historically, the Congress has always had different voices speaking on diverse issues, airing views.
As you have rightly said, historically, this has been a tradition in the Congress—diverse opinions with people speaking openly on different issues. It has worked well for the Congress. With electronic media and social media so active, we cannot afford different voices on important issues because in that case, the projection of the party is that of too many voices and indiscipline. This is a message which we won’t like to go out. We need one cohesive voice, one cohesive direction.
Muzamil Jaleel: We know that in the BJP, Narendra Modi is the leader being projected. Why is the Congress not putting out its prime ministerial candidate and telling people that this is the person who is going to lead if they come to power next?
In 2004, we never announced Manmohan Singhji as our prime ministerial candidate but he was appointed PM after that. In 2009, we announced Manmohan Singhji as our prime ministerial candidate only on the day we released our manifesto. So, where is the need now to announce our PM candidate when elections are so far away? Second, the BJP also has, so far, not announced its prime ministerial candidate. Still, even to appoint Narendra Modi as the party campaign