Pinning hopes on the “depleting popularity” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to the BJP government’s failure to usher in “good days” as promised, as also on the perception that Assembly elections results can be different from that of Lok Sabha, the Congress has decided to adopt the BJP’s “micro management” of polling booths and use of modern means of canvassing, such as social media, in the ensuing Assembly elections.
“This election is of utmost importance for us. Our analysis shows the BJP did very good booth-level micro-management. We will have to do that too. Let’s have loyal workers to man the booths. Let’s have their phone numbers. They will get calls from call centres and what they do will be monitored. Let’s fight this with all the power. Our survey reports are very encouraging,” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said at a Vidarbha regional meet of Congress leaders and workers on Monday.
Marked, as usual, by taunts and barbs flowing freely with leaders like former Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar not shying away from targeting both Chavan and MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre, the conclave was testimony to the fact that not much has changed in the Congress’s way of dealing with crisis.
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Desperation too was evident in ample measure as Umarkhed MLA Vijay Khadse said: “If the BJP can purchase the media, why can’t we?”
While there were demands from some quarters to sever ties with the NCP, the CM chose not to talk about the alliance at all. Thakre, however, clarified that there was no question of giving more seats to the ally.
AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik said the party should be ready with nominees for all constituencies should the “friends” (read NCP) indulge in an act of deception.
Thakre said the party had decided to do away with repeating veterans, irrespective of their winnability, and would field more number of youths and women nominees.
Many leaders drew solace from the fact that the Congress won all three Assembly bypolls in Uttarakhand recently, which they said were indicative of the people’s disenchantment with the new government. “Even in Gujarat, three of the seven Assembly bypoll results during the Lok Sabha elections went in Congress’s favour,” Thakre and Chavan pointed out.
Some leaders pointed out step-motherly treatment meted out to Vidarbha. “We have had two CMs each from west Maharashtra and Marathwada. Why no CM from Vidarbha,” asked one of them.
The CM listed several initiatives taken by the government for the region and promised that if the party returned to power he would do everything to develop the region.
Wasnik admitted that disconnect with the people and the inability to publicise the good work done by the government were some of the main reasons for Congress’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls. Wasnik, who lost at Ramtek, admitted that he too was to be blamed for this.
Vijay Khadse exhorted the leaders to take better care of their workers. Citing the example of post-Emergency elections, several leaders recalled how Vidarbha stood by the Congress in its hour of crisis.
Former MLA Bandu Sawarbandha took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi, calling for dumping the idea of primaries.