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Congress finally has a new media strategy, but will its aggression pay off?

In: Social Media

On July 1st something unexpected happened.

Zee News had broadcast a video of Rahul Gandhi allegedly defending the accused in Udaipur. – Gandhi had actually spoken about students vandalizing his party office in Kerala’s Wayanad. BJP leader Rajyavardhan Rathore tweeted Zee‘s clip at around 10:45 p.m.; several others from his group enthusiastically shared it.

That’s not the unexpected part – that goes without saying.

But about an hour later, Congress Chair Supriya Shrinate to delete the misleading clip. “At least protect the sanctity of the uniform you once wore,” she tweeted snidely.

Congress leader Pawan Khera, other party members flooded social media with what Gandhi actually said and Rathore deleted the tweet. Zee News even .

It may seem like a small victory for Congress, but it was nonetheless amazing to see the party defeat the BJP on its own terms. The BJP is known for its aggressive social media strategies. Put simply, Congress is not. For example, last April, but he only has about 38,000 subscribers a year later.

But the party seems to have finally decided to do something about it.

On June 16, Congress announced a new media and communications team. Jairam Ramesh took over as general secretary of the party’s social and digital wing, as well as general secretary in charge of communications. Pawan Khera was appointed Chair of Media and Public Relations and Chair of Supriya Shrine for Social Media and Digital Platforms. The team as a whole comprises “around 100” people.

Ramesh’s posts were previously held by Randeep Surjewala, who had held those posts for a full seven years (the term is said to be three years). Surjewala had offered his resignation a number of times as the party suffered several electoral defeats during his tenure, but his resignation was never accepted.

Three new secretaries were also appointed: Vineet Punia as national secretary, internal communications; Vaibhav Walia as Secretary, Communications; and Amitabh Dubey as executive secretary of the research department of the communications department.

Punia tells newspaper laundry that it had “discussed changes in the communications and media departments” during the Nav Sankalp Shivir event of Congress, where Congress had itself examined its electoral losses.

“With this in mind, the communications department has now been expanded to include social media and established a research department,” he said. “In addition, the communications and media teams of all federal states will report to the central team.”

Journalist Rasheed Kidwai, who has written a number of books about the congress, said it was time to take action.

“It has been said inside and outside of Congress that the party has not been able to get its message across to the people effectively,” he said. “Nevertheless, no changes were made in the media and communications team. On the one hand, Congress keeps losing elections… on the other hand, the party is stuck in its old patterns. This creates a gap between what the party preaches and what it practices.”

Things already seem to be gaining momentum under Ramesh, as evidenced by the response to the Zee News Transmission. Zee‘s presenter Rohit Ranjan had several cases and was then booked by the police.

In addition, the party now organizes daily press conferences to discuss issues of national importance. And while Congress has never really acted on fake news before, as some journalists have said newspaper laundry, now the time for doing nothing is over. The party is determined to be dynamic and take legal action against “those who spread fake news”.

“The reaction of the party has changed,” said a member of the party’s media team on condition of anonymity. “You will notice a change in our press conferences. We keep a close eye on those spreading anti-Party fake news and respond immediately. After putting together the new team, our work is more coordinated and organized.”

As a result, Khera said the party is successfully reaching “millions of people daily through social media.” “Dialogue is essential to politics,” he added, “so we highlight the failures of the BJP government. The media has constructed an artificial image of the BJP and Narendra Modi that we are countering. Now we focus on reactive and proactive dialogue.”

To promote this dialogue, the media team met with editors from various news channels, according to journalists and party leaders. “Jairam Ramesh and Vineet Punia are conducting meetings with editors,” said one journalist newspaper laundry. “It is hoped that the results of these meetings will be shown on some television channels.”

Khera said: “These meetings have also taken place in the past. We have spoken to channels in our meetings about avoiding the broadcast of fake news and polarizing content.”

The party has also curated a list of aggressive spokespersons to get their message across. These include Gaurav Vallabh, Supriya Shrinate, Alka Lamba, Ragini Nayak, Pawan Khera and Alok Sharma. “The speaker is the identity of the party,” Khera said. “People know the party through the speaker. People now want to listen to our speakers. Everyone has a different quality that people appreciate.”

But a wide berth is avoided around some canals. “We’re not going republic, Zee News, times now and Anand Narasimhan’s show CNN News18‘ Chera said. “We present our points on other channels.”

bumps in the road

However, there is a crucial problem.

“Our biggest challenge is money,” said a member of the media team. “We don’t have a separate fund for our team. Our budget is limited to those on the Congress Party payroll. Financially, our team is far behind the BJP.”

Importantly, many senior congressional leaders have not historically developed ties to the media, save for a select few. A new relationship between Congress and the media cannot be created overnight.

“Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Kapil Sibal have good personal relationships with the media… But Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have never developed good relationships,” journalist Kidwai said. “They have outsourced it to people close to them… After the Congress Party and the Gandhi family have stayed in power for so many years, they have not formulated any media policy.”

He added: “How will your relationships be good until you meet the media?”

There is also some confusion about government advertising – the main source of income for many media houses. The BJP, as the national party in power, frequently advertises in newspapers and news channels across the states, but Congress’s reach is more limited.

“There have been talks of advertising to the media, but leaders only want to advertise in their state, not nationally,” a senior congressional leader said on condition of anonymity. “The BJP is in power, that’s why they campaign nationally.”

A television journalist who often reports on the congress told the story newspaper laundry that’s a problem. “The media want ads that they get from the mainstream party,” he said. “It won’t show news pro-Congress until it gets a fat ad. There is also fear of some government agencies, which is why everyone is speaking on the same page. In such an atmosphere, Congress must remain consistently active in order to achieve results.”

But Vineet Punia is hopeful: “The government will change in 2024.”

This report was. It was translated into English by Utkarsh Sharma.

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