Message undelivered: Weak election campaign hurts India’s Congress

JAIPUR, India (Reuters) – In January, India’s main opposition Congress party seemed poised for a strong fight back against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after victories in three heartland states late last year.

But just over four months later, even Congress officials admit the attempt to unseat Modi in the ongoing general election has suffered from a weak campaign and fumbled communications. Political strategists say the mis-steps and an inability to sew up alliances with other opposition groups had hurt Congress.

Votes are to be counted on May 23 and it’s still not clear if Modi will come back to power, although many political analysts and pollsters have said he has the edge.

Two Congress officials told Reuters that their campaign, centred around a promise of a handout of 72,000 rupees (£791.63) every year for India’s poorest families, was rolled out late — only four days before the first phase of the polls began on April 11.

In contrast, the Modi campaign’s communications has been a huge strength – no one can complain that the message didn’t get out.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has dominated newspaper frontpages, TV screens, social media posts, roadside billboards and rallies through the election, backed by a war chest multiple times that controlled by Congress.

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