BJP saying '400 paar' so people don't ask why petrol ‘100 paar’: Kanhaiya Kumar

The Congress leader says a "malicious attempt" is on to alter reality using perception management, reflecting the BJP's fear of defeat

Kanhaiya Kumar at the PTI headquarters
Kanhaiya Kumar at the PTI headquarters


Terming the BJP's '400 paar (beyond 400)' slogan "perception management", Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar says such claims are a "malicious attempt" to alter the reality and are reflective of the ruling party's fear of defeat.

In an interaction with PTI editors at the news agency's headquarters in Delhi, Kumar questioned the BJP's confidence about the NDA crossing the 400-figure mark in the Lok Sabha elections, asking if that was indeed so, why was it inducting leaders who couldn't win polls while in the Congress, and are like "used cartridges".

Kumar also acknowledged that there was a "failure" on the part of old parties that had been in power earlier, owing to which people were attracted to the "extremism of the BJP", but said the change in the situation was only a matter of time as India's society is based on love and equality, and stands for co-existence and tolerance.

Asked about the BJP's slogan of '400 paar', and whether it does not seem as though the opposition is lagging behind in the battle of perception, he said, "If one looks at it closely, this reflects the BJP's frustration and its fear of defeat. Have you heard that the Indian cricket team has gone to play a match with Australia and before the match they are saying, 400 paar? They don't say such a thing. They say 'we will play well and win'," he said.

Kumar claimed that efforts were being made to alter the reality through perception management. "A malicious attempt is being made to alter reality on the basis of perception management. If the number is already crossing 400, then what is the point of inducting 'used cartridges' from different outfits into your party?

"Suppose you are winning the match, then what is the point of bribing the Australian captain or taking along his retired players?" the former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president asked.

He also wanted to know what use someone could be to the BJP if they were not winning elections in the Congress. Referring to the recent crossing over of many Congress leaders, Kumar said, "Those people against whom you used to say bad things, you are now praising them. There were many people who were called anti-national, but now they are in the BJP.

"It seems the BJP has discovered a mine of shamelessness and whenever it gets a chance, it brings out some shamelessness. Those who were fighting like cocks in the TV studio are now sitting side by side.

"Is this the confidence of '400 paar'? This is a malicious attempt to deceive the country. This is being said so that thousands of questions are glossed over by the number of 400, no one asks why petrol prices have crossed Rs 100, why there is so much inflation, why the unemployment rate is highest in decades."

It is being said that the economy will cross USD 5 trillion but if it so, who are the 80 crore people being given free food grains, with the government patting itself on the back, he asked.

"Repeated attempts are being made to hide the reality. This is an insult to the 140 crore people of the country who have to vote. If it is already decided that 400 has to be crossed, why are elections being held?" Kumar asked.

He asserted that all this is a "game of perception", and the Congress understands this. In a similar manner, a perception management attempt was made using the 'India Shining' slogan during the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004, but when the election results came in, the NDA government was defeated and the UPA was formed. He said such claims by the BJP were an attempt to manipulate elections.

On the Congress being affected by this perception and leaders quitting the party, Kumar said some leaders were perhaps being affected, but asserted that 40-50 leaders at the AICC do not represent the whole party, the Congress is the party that encompasses the history of our modern state.

"The Congress is such a party that if you look at its history you will know that even (RSS founder) Hedgewar was a member. The Congress' history is not that small and it should not be reduced to that level," Kumar said.

When it is being said that the Congress is in its worst phase, it is still gaining in seats each year, he added. Kumar said he doesn't think Congress workers are getting affected by the BJP's perception management, but there are a few opportunistic people or those who are scared, who are getting caught in the "trap".

Asked about the reason for greater acceptance of the BJP electorally as reflected in its recent poll victories, and if the problem was due to the Congress leadership, Kumar claimed the BJP gives prominence to division, violence and hatred and on the other hand, there is Gandhi's idea which includes 'sarvadharma sama bhava', unity and love.

"Now, why is it getting electoral success? First, we are not trying to hide the failure of the old parties which have been in power. We have failed somewhere and I admit that had we taken our message to the people in their language and maintained their trust, they would not have gone towards extremism because extremism is not the nature of this society," he said.

Extremist ideas dominate society when human qualities are reduced and seem hollow, he said, adding that this is a socio-political crisis. The other aspect is that people talk about the BJP and its working in an over-rated manner, he said. "I believe that the BJP worker of 1980 was stronger and worked harder than he does today, but did not get success. Even the workers of its paternal organisation RSS were more dedicated and hardworking in the 1920s," he said.

So, the BJP's position is "exaggerated" and if their prowess was such, then the PM who talked about 'ek akela' would not have gotten 38 parties together. "When we analyse our history as a nation-state, when Gandhi vaad (Gandhian thought) weakens, 'Godse vaad' will gain strength. If attraction towards inequality rises then 'Ambedkarism' will weaken. If fear, greed and cheating increase within us, the ideas of Bhagat Singh seem to diminish. I can say with full confidence that it is just a matter of time (this will change)," he said.

Ultimately, society moves with love, equality, co-existence and tolerance, Kumar asserted.

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