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Web Monitor: Indian National Congress
The web site of the Indian National Congress is one of the most visually appealing from any political party.
The opening page mentions that the Congress is the largest democratic party in the world, very informative since many people are under the impression that it is a private firm run by the descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
You have the option accessing the English or the Hindi version. We headed for the former link.
The page that shows up has a horizontal panel with pictures of the party's prominent leaders. Strangely, no contemporary leader figures in that panel with the latest one being Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated on May 21, 1991. Wonder who the youth identifies with?
The page now has a prominent link to party president Sonia Gandhi's interview to Hindustan Times Editorial Director Vir Sanghvi. [Earlier it was the interview to Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, the link to which you can find in the section Our President]
The web site has not yet begun promoting Rahul and Priyanka. The only mention of Rahul we noticed was in the Press Comments section.
A notable absentee on the panel is the last Congress prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao, who initiated the economic reforms that has made India Shining. But then Narasimha Rao has been airbrushed out of the party's history, a bit like what the rulers of the Kremlin used to do when the USSR was the planet's largest Communist entity.
Is there an unwritten code in the Congress, reflected on its web site? That, if your surname is not Nehru or Gandhi, your picture won't appear on the web site?
Rao fails to find any mention on the site; please e-mail us if you spotted him somewhere.
It appears the Congress is reluctant to claim credit for its role in making India and Indians prosper; strange, when political parties are known to do exactly the opposite.
A horizontal menu bar of the top helps you understand the party's history, organisation and philosophy. An entire section is devoted to Rajiv Gandhi, which contains his bio-data, speeches and pictures. For his fans, the party offers a screensaver. We are not.
Also on the home page are links to the party's election manifesto, economic agenda, charges against the ruling National Democratic Alliance and why you should vote for the Congress.
Why Congress? mentions Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi. Rao's omission is understandable but what about Indira Gandhi? Was it an oversight or something to do with family politics?
An irritant is the unusual width of the pages, which is inexplicable and forces you to use the bottom scroll bar.
Inside the Elections 2004 link, the posters section has a good number of photographs of party president Sonia Gandhi. Thankfully, there is no overkill. Not like the 54 pictures of Prime Minister Vajpayee in the BJP's Vision Document.
The site has a feedback section but seems to make no efforts to engage visitors in interactive activities like chats. Also, writing to the party is futile because the only response I got is that the mail ID does not exist.
Every page has a chat link at the bottom. But clicking on it leads to a page that says: Look out for Next Scheduled Chat. No details are mentioned and I have no clue when the last chat was scheduled and with whom.
Finally checked out the Join Today link, which for some strange reason, leads to a page titled: Congress Network of Friends. Among other things required of you is to endorse Sonia Gandhi's leadership.
Rating: 3 out of 5
External Link: Congress web site
Earlier reviews: Image: Rahil Shaikh
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