MUMBAI: UPA Chairperson and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday said the promise of “achhe din” will work against the BJP in the same manner as ‘India Shining’ campaign did against then Vajpayee government in the 2004 General Elections.
She also said that the Congress and its allies in the United Progressive Alliance will return to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“The main issue with the BJP is that they made huge fantastic promises. But what is being implemented? They sold such a positive picture — we will give jobs, give you Rs 15 lakh. There is great disappointment. I am confident the BJP’s ‘achhe din’ will actually turn into ‘India Shining’ — which brought us to power (in 2004),” she said at an India Today conclave here.
Sonia Gandhi took several questions after her address at the event.
The Congress leader said there was a lot of disappointment among people over the promises made by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 elections.
The then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government lost power in the 2004 elections despite a massive ‘India Shining’ campaign and expectations that it will do well.
Sonia Gandhi said the Congress and its allies will not let Modi get another term in office at the Centre. “We are going to come back. We are not going to let them come back,” she quipped.
About BJP and its allies now ruling 22 states and the reasons for Congress decline in the 2014 polls, Gandhi said the UPA had been in power for two terms of five years each and definitely there was certain amount of anti-incumbency.
“People felt perhaps they wanted a new person. There were other issues. Also, I think we were out-marketed because we couldn’t compete with the manner in which Modi and his party went into elections,” she said.
The Congress leader said they will fix the grey areas where the BJP did better. “We have to… It is a challenge. But I am sure we will be able to meet it.”
On the lessons learnt from the 2014 debacle, she said the party has to really develop a new style of connecting with the people at the organisational level.
“We also have to look at the way we project our policies and programmes,” she said.
Gandhi said the National Democratic Alliance had adopted earlier UPA’s programmes and in some cases “weakened” them.
On corruption as a big factor in the 2014 polls, she said it was “highly exaggerated” against her party.
She referred to the court verdict in the 2G spectrum case in which all the accused were acquitted and to the huge figure of notional loss pegged by the then Comptroller and Auditor General.
“… now everyone realises it was highly exaggerated. Another question we can ask ourselves is — how come the person who was incharge of that institution was given a cushy job right after his retirement? One must be told about these things,” Gandhi said.
Sonia Gandhi said her son Rahul Gandhi, who took over as party chief in December last, always wanted to induct younger people in the All India Congress Committee but was held back.
“He certainly has always wanted to have younger and new people in the party. If you do not have such people, how is the party going to grow. That is his argument and a very valid one,” Sonia Gandhi said.
“… there are also seniors/elders who feel ‘we have been struggling all these years and suddenly what is going to happen to us’. But in the last Congress Working Committee meeting, he clearly said that young people must be encouraged but it does not mean doing away with or ignoring the seniors who have been in the party for long and have contributed to its growth,” the Congress leader said.