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Congress Shouldn’t Allow BJP to Hijack Narrative in 2019: Shashi Tharoor

The Congress is preparing a well-grounded manifesto which will be the party's map for governance and its focus will be job creation, he said.

Mumbai: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said Saturday that the BJP should not be allowed to change the “national narrative” in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress was the only alternative to the BJP, the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.

“The Congress needs to shape the national narrative in the right direction and resist powerful attempts made by the BJP to change it. We have to focus on activating ourselves at the booth level,” Tharoor said at an interaction with members of the All India Professional Congress here.

The Congress is preparing a well-grounded manifesto which will be the party’s map for governance and its focus will be job creation, he said.

The Rahul Gandhi-led party was the only alternative to the “discredited” BJP, he said.

To a question, Tharoor admitted that unlike in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh (where the Congress has now dislodged the BJP from power), his party is not the principal opposition to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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“We have to be realistic and work within our limitations. We have to sink our pride and work with parties who are more popular than us, since changing the government in 2019 is our priority,” he said.

However, as a long-term strategy, the Congress needs to reconnect with the masses in UP and Bihar and not rely only on its allies, Tharoor added.

The party’s social media presence is robust and Rahul Gandhi’s tweets are more entertaining and punchy than Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s, he said.

Tharoor also blamed the BJP for `losing’ an opportunity to bring lasting peace to Jammu and Kashmir.

2019 Lok Sabha elections
PM Narendra Modi (R) and BJP president Amit Shah

“With the unholy alliance with PDP, BJP had gained a foothold in Kashmir’s political space and a stake in the government. There were perfect conditions to work on serious peace initiative. But the BJP let it go by indulging in petty politics. This is a cause of dismay to all Indians who care,” he said.

To a question about rumours that he could join the BJP, the Congress MP said it was not possible “because fundamentals are in variance”.

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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) demonized Mahatma’s Gandhi’s principles, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands the value of “Mahatma Gandhi brand”, Tharoor said.

“He pays a lip service (to Gandhi) but ignores the content,” he said.

On BJP’s `appropriation’ of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he said, “The most divisive government yet constructed the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Patel. Patel is being appropriated because he is not Nehru and is a Gujarati.

“However, Patel as home minister banned the RSS. He was a Gandhian to the core. When confronted with communal violence, Patel’s approach was different from Modi’s,” Tharoor said.

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