Congress leader Salman Khurshid has said in his new book Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defence that his party lost the perception battle heading into the 2014 General Elections. The 2014 Lok Sabha polls saw the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party sweep to power with 282 seats, while the Congress was reduced to 44 seats in the Lok Sabha.
In an interview with The Hindu, Khurshid said the United Progressive Alliance went into the elections demoralised, and already accepting defeat. “There was no platform where ministers could take a uniform position on controversial issues, and Manmohan Singh’s government gave the impression of being a lameduck government since 2012,” he said.
The former external affairs minister said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had outwitted former President Pranab Mukherjee. Khurshid added that Kejriwal had cornered the UPA over the Lokpal Bill, and the BJP had attacked it over the 2G spectrum scam.
“Kejriwal and his group destroyed us completely. We had no way of knowing how to handle him,” Khurshid said. “Kejriwal would speak to Mukherjee in a very submissive voice and go out say something completely different. Mukherjee once called me at 11 pm and told me ‘Salman call the press and inform.’ And for the first time, I was calling the press at midnight to say that Kejriwal has said something rubbish.”
Khurshid claimed that the Congress did not have much camaraderie with former Telecom Minister A Raja, one of the prime accused in the 2G scam. “We did not have much equation with Raja and the likes,” he said. “It was not the kind of camaraderie where we would immediately go and say we will handhold for you. Don’t worry, this is a collective problem. Nobody treated it as a collective problem.”
He also pitched for a “grand alliance” between the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.