Lifted by its victory in the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, the Congress has drawn up a high-profile campaign plan for the Assembly election, due later this year.
After weeks of political intrigue and mud-slinging, Congress elder Ahmad Patel secured his fifth term in the Upper House on August 8, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s in a dramatic finish. Patel’s victory in what was seen as a prestige battle against the BJP is said to have lifted the spirits of Congress leaders in a state where the party has been out of power for over two decades.
As per the plan finalised by the Congress Core Committee in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi, the party’s vice president, will lay the foundation for the campaign. In the first week of September, Gandhi will address a public meeting in Ahmadabad, followed by three-day visits to each of the state’s four zones – Saurashtra, and North, South and Central Gujarat – two weeks later. In each zone, he will lead yatras, and hold public meetings as well as interactive sessions with party workers, Raju Parmar, a member of the Core Committee, said.
Gandhi’s proposed programme will be preceded by two major party events. On August 29, Congress MLAs will be felicitated in Surat for ensuring Patel’s victory, despite the best efforts of the BJP. On September 1, a united opposition rally will be held at Padri in Valsad district.
Gandhi’s last visit to Gujarat was not pleasant. While visiting the flood-affected town of Dhanera in Banaskantha district on August 4, his car was attacked with stones. The Congress blamed the attack on the BJP, with Gandhi himself targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Narendra Modi ji, slogans, black flags and stones will not deter us,” he said. “We will put in all our might into the service of people.”