- BJP much more successful in pulling in vote, says Congress leader
- But regional parties TMC, AIADMK even better than them locally, he said
- Congress suffered stunning defeat against BJP in Uttar Pradesh this month
"Today what is absolutely clear is that the Congresss' organisational structure is no match to the BJP-RSS organisational structure. They are able to turn out the vote and pull in the vote much stronger. But if the BJP-RSS's organisational structure tries to match its wit against the TMC's organisational structure in Bengal or against AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, they will lose," he said.
Mr Chidambaram also dismissed as "bizarre" the conclusion that a vote in Uttar Pradesh is a vote for demonetisation.
"A national election in India is a collection of 29 elections (in states). Elections are contextual. They are decided by the situation in that state. People say that a vote in Uttar Pradesh is a vote for demonetisation. By the same logic, a vote in Punjab is a vote against demonetisation. That's a bizarre conclusion," he said.
"The task is 29 times harder for us to devise a strategy that fits in every state. I have told my leadership, you need to sit down now and work out 29 strategies to fight a national election," he said.
The veteran leader also underscored that the democratic process in India is not mature enough.
"If we still have to go on hunger strike to show opposition to our own government that shows this democracy still has to mature. Why is our democracy not allowing true opposition in a form other than a hunger strike or street protest? It is because people fear if 'I say something against the government, I may be in trouble', that fear must go," he said.
"Today the space for opposition is shrinking... Dalits... minorities... NGOs... all live in fear," he added.
About the TMC, he said jokingly addressing Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien: "You are a state party... you have a minor presence in Tripura... we are a national party."
Mr Chidambaram was participating in a freewheeling conversation with Mr O'Brien on "What it means to be fearless in opposition".