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High on Bypoll Wins, Rajasthan Congress Charts Battle Plan to Dethrone Vasundhara Raje

The party’s ground campaign will be centred around a mass contact programme. With over 9,800 gram panchayats in Rajasthan, the Congress plans to hold meetings in each one of them before the elections.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com

Updated:March 4, 2018, 8:37 AM IST
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High on Bypoll Wins, Rajasthan Congress Charts Battle Plan to Dethrone Vasundhara Raje
Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot during a protest in Jaipur (File photo: PTI)
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New Delhi: Buoyed by success in Rajasthan Lok Sabha bypolls earlier this month, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC) has kicked off its preparation for the big test later this year.

Banking on its recent success, the party is leaving no stone unturned to utilize its re-emerging popularity in the state ahead of the assembly elections. State Congress president Sachin Pilot has already drawn up the party’s roadmap. The party’s ground campaign will be centred around a mass contact programme. With over 9,800 gram panchayats in Rajasthan, the Congress plans to hold meetings in each one of them before the elections.

Earlier, on February 22, Rahul Gandhi summoned Pilot, two-time Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other senior Rajasthan Congress leaders to his residence in New Delhi to discuss their preparations for the 2018 Assembly elections.

According to sources, party president Rahul Gandhi said in the Delhi meeting that for the time being no Congress CM candidate would be announced in the state. Gandhi apparently took this call to avoid any factionalism setting in the party’s state unit.

While some leaders want to portray Pilot as the chief architect of the Congress campaign, particularly Ajmer, which Pilot represented in the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014, other sections of the party are not so keen on placing the crown on young Pilot’s head.

Sources indicate that another camp eagerly wants former chief minister Ashok Gehlot to be declared as the Congress CM face six months ahead of the polls. A loss in the bypolls would have given Gehlot ammunition to approach Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and it would have been something, sources say.

Speaking exclusively to News 18 days before the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, Pilot responded to the rumours of “camps” being set up in the Congress. “This narrative is BJP propaganda. If the Congress party had any camps, we would not perform so splendidly over the last four years. The Congress party has been united, is united and will remain united and BJP can’t tolerate that. Our strength is our unity. Look at the byelections, the municipal elections and the panchayat elections. We have done exceedingly well. Over the last four years, Congress has been strong and that is why we are in such an effective position to defeat the BJP six months from now,” he had said.

Meanwhile, state leaders are taking cue from other states where BJP failed to get a majority. A Rajasthan Congress leader said, “Look at the state where BJP lost – Delhi and Bihar. What was done in these states? Both Arvind Kejriwal and Nitish Kumar took their issues directly to the people. Kejriwal had a door-to-door campaign and Nitish Kumar did his ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ (a knock on every door) campaign.”

“We believe it can also be done in Rajasthan but it will take a lot more time, since Rajasthan is the largest state in terms of area. Our workers and leaders, including Sachin Pilot himself, will go to each and every village in Rajasthan and raise issues such as unemployment, corruption, law and order etc. It is impossible to reach the poorest of the poor with social media alone. We will have to unleash an army of foot workers,” he said.

Talking about party’s mass contact programme, Pilot said, “We have already made plans. We are going to start a mass-contact programme. We are going to work with double the strength, double the energy and double the humility. After our win, we have even more responsibility on our shoulders. In every division, every district and every block the Congress party is going to be seen everywhere. We are going to give a credible alternative and an alternative that the people of Rajasthan are going to prefer. The BJP has already been rejected in these elections and I am certain that eight months later, we are going to get the blessings of the people of Rajasthan.”
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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