The Grand Old Party of India probably thought Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's first proper TV one-on-oneinterview would make a major impact with voters, but just the opposite seems to have happened.
Pappu looked totally out of place in the interview. He fidgeted, avoided eye contact most of the time.He generally gave a body language that suggested that he would like to leave if given the chance.
His interview may be a new stream of consciousness into Pappu's brain, but for the average listener he sounded vague, superficial, confused and repetitive. Not a single question was answered properly and there was a severe disconnect between what was being asked and what was being answered.
Then there were the fallouts...
1. Media ridicule:
Rarely has any interview been received with such one-sidedness. Pappu was on top of the pops on Twitter: But for all the wrong reasons. The Pappu jokes are back and they have received a lot of fodder thanks to this interview.
Even the articles in the media were mostly negative and the Congress leaders in the privacy of their homes must be racking their brains as to what to make out of it.
2. PR blitz gone awry:
One was reading a lot of reports on how Rs 500 crores may be being spent on Pappu's makeover. The ads centring Rahul Gandhi have started being rolled out and the Congress is finally making it a personality contest between him and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
However instead of kick-starting his new campaign, the reverse seems to have happened. This may prove to be the final nail in Pappu's 2014 coffin. A lot of undecided voters must have totally switched off after watching this lame interview.
3. 1984 back with a bang:
The Congress-BJP 1984 versus 2002 is a sick battle. Congress leaders were seen leading rioters in 1984 and the Sangh Parivar was involved in 2002. While 2002 has been played up immensely by the media, 1984 not much so.
But Pappu's refusal to give an apology over 1984 and his absolute denial over what happened there has backfired big time. Now suddenly 1984 is in the news again. Victims and their families came on TV and blasted Pappu and called him a liar.
There were many panel debates and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for a SIT to look into 1984. The Congress leaders are totally on the backfoot now.
4. Allies looking unsure:
While the Trinamool Congress and DMK walked out of the UPA, NCP has been one of the staunchest allies. Yet NCP leader Praful Patel said after the interview that the Godhra matter on Modi should be given a rest because a judicial probe has given him a clean chit.
Attacking Modi on Godhra has been a consistent factor for most non-BJP parties and this must hurt the Congress.
There was also some friction between another allyin the form of the National Conference. While there are differences over setting smaller up administrative units, the timing is suspect. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also went ahead and said that Congress doesn't have a long-term interest in their alliance.
5. Negated Talkatora speech:
The speech that Pappu gave at Talkatora Stadium in front of Congress workers was probably his best. It had energy and passion and generally made more sense than his other nonsensical speeches.
Pappu's brand managers could have worked on what went right there and then taken it forward for the election campaign. However, now this TV interview has gone ahead and negated even that.
For every political event in India, there is always a strong attack and defence. But one must say that the defence of Pappu's interview is pretty lame. The articles defending him sound even more incoherent that the interview.
In fact, most of the defence centred on Modi bashing. For example Priyanka Chaturvedi @priyankac19 Tweeted:
Better a sincere, honest, upfront politician than a conniving and scheming one. Much respect for Rahul Gandhi. #RahulspeakstoArnab
Nobody could praise Pappu on his own merit, but Modi had to be invoked.
Then there was @VishalDadlani's Tweet retweeted by @ArvindKejriwal:
Stuck between a moron and a murderer....what now, India!?
Everyone accepts that Pappu is a disaster, but the effect can only be lessened if he is somehow compared to Modi!
Many even went around saying that at least Pappu had the guts to face Arnab Goswami unlike Modi. That Arnab and Modi had a one-on-one in 2009 seems to be conveniently forgotten. The only year to be remembered is 2002.
It must be said that both Pappu and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. If they keep quiet then they get flak. If they speak then they get even greater flak!
More by the author:
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If this is AAP education, give me illiteracy!
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.