In The Mood to ‘Give It Back’, Congress Now Unapologetic in Throwing Barbs At PM; Will This Boomerang?

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Narendra Modi is the first PM who tells his problems to people instead of listening to theirs. (File pics: Twitter and PTI)

Sources in the Congress say this direction has come from Priyanka herself. She, like a few others such as her brother Rahul Gandhi, believes that the benefit of abusive or adverse personal comments against the PM is earned by the BJP only during Lok Sabha polls

Till Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s aggressive outburst against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Jamkhandi in Karnataka, the Congress was sheepish about any personal attacks made against the PM. This is the reason why after furore over Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s “poisonous snake” remark, he clarified that his comment was not directed at an individual but at an ideology. He later went on to say that he was sorry if he hurt anyone.

But Priyanka has now changed the tone. Immediately after her outburst, the Congress social media team took a dig at the Prime Minister, calling him CryPM, while chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has been dubbed PayCM. The hashtag and campaign trended soon enough, revealing the new strategy of the Congress: “Give it back”.

Sources in the Congress say this direction has come from Priyanka herself. She, like a few others such as her brother Rahul Gandhi, believes that the benefit of abusive or adverse personal comments against the PM is earned by the BJP only during Lok Sabha polls. “Chowkidar chor hai”, “chai wala”, etc, only helped the saffron party to garner support for the PM during parliamentary elections. The Congress believes that in state polls, local issues matter more. And since state elections are about the CM, any attack on the PM may not matter.

Priyanka also told her party colleagues that the strategy may be different for Lok Sabha polls but they need not be worried regarding this in state elections, according to sources.

“People are angry about many things. We have to be open about questioning and criticising the PM. I don’t think it will boomerang even at the national level anymore. But while we don’t want to take any chance for 2024, in Karnataka, it doesn’t really matter,” said a Congress leader.

Actually, Priyanka and Rahul have made up their mind that this new Congress has no need to be apologetic, said sources. If the BJP could attack Sonia Gandhi and get away, there is no reason why the Congress cannot attack the PM as well, they added.

However, these thoughts are not completely accepted by most local leaders. They feel that at a time when the focus should be on rising prices, unemployment, and corruption, any such remark can only help the BJP divert public attention.

In the next few days, the Congress is expected to get shriller and more aggressive. Actually, through the Karnataka campaign, the Gandhis have made up their mind for the 2024 strategy, which is to “take them on, especially the PM”.

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