CHENNAI: The last phase of polling in the numerically-important Uttar Pradesh is due on March 8, but Congress leader and former I&B Minister Manish Tewari told Express that his party had a clear game plan.
“The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are putting their best foot forward, asking people to keep the development of UP in mind and give us another chance,” said the former Union Minister.
Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scathing remarks last month at a poll rally in Fatehpur, he said, “For all the talk about Start Up India, Stand Up India, Sit Down India, which the Prime Minister has done over the past 33 months to appeal to the electorate, his language still doesn’t go beyond kabristan and shamshan,” said the 51-year-old lawyer.
Though UP, Tamil Nadu and Bihar account for about 200 seats in Parliament, they continue to pose a big challenge to the Congress, he conceded, adding that the party has not been in power in Tamil Nadu since 1967 – when former CM K Kamaraj held sway over the electorate. However, he is aware of the reality of the party’s weak hold today, “Wherever Congress has been out of reckoning for a very long time, the recovery path has been difficult. We went for an alliance in UP to see whether the tie-up could get us back in power,” he said.
In Tamil Nadu, Tewari believes, the way forward is forging ties with a major player. “We have had alliances in the past. They were sustainable and productive, and put the Congress on a trajectory of becoming not only relevant but more importantly, politically competent,” he suggested, referring to the tumultuous alliance with the DMK that ended in a bitter split post the 2G scam.
Speaking about the flux in the party about central leadership, he conceded that though there was no forgetting the fact that 2014 was not a good year for the Congress, State elections were fought on their own imperative and dynamic. “In these circumstances, the central leadership has its own role to play but at best, it is a very limited role,” Tewari said.
He also condemned the disruption of parliamentary proceedings, the last manifestation of which played out in the Tamil Nadu Assembly during the vote of confidence, saying, “Parliamentary disruption, whether done by us or any other political party is the biggest disservice to democracy. People will have to find a modus operandi of reaching across the aisle and working with each other.”