Top Congress leaders from Uttar Pradesh Wednesday gave Prashant Kishor, the poll strategist roped in by the party to coordinate its election efforts in the state, a raft of ideas to help the party turn around its electoral fortunes. Nearly 30 Congress leaders from the state attended the meeting, where suggestions ranging from declaring candidates in advance to getting all top leaders and former ministers to contest were put forward. Other ideas pitched at the meeting included announcing a face for the election and targeting specific, electorally-significant communities.
Within the Congress there has been a talk about fielding in Assembly polls leaders who contested the Lok Sabha elections. According to sources, the issues was raised at the meeting by former Union coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal. He, sources added, questioned the rationale to relegate people like him to contesting Assembly polls. However, an MLA promptly intervened and said that in that case he should not aspire to be CM in case of the party’s victory. Another leader suggested that even if he doesn’t contest, he should ensure that at least two Congress candidates win from Assembly segments within his Lok Sabha seat, revealed sources.
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While Kishor took notes, he did not speak at the meeting. The suggestions and issues discussed at the meeting will be factored in to draw up a strategy for the Congress, which has become a marginal player in the most politically crucial state.
This was the first time that Kishor had attended a meeting of UP Congress leaders. He has been drafted by the party to oversee its poll preparations in Punjab as well.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who joined the meeting towards the end, was learnt to have told the leaders to be confident about the party’s chances. He said even if two or three leaders displayed lack of confidence, it would affect the morale of the entire team and its capabilities.
Many leaders also spoke about the issues to be raised, including atrocities on Dalits. While some wanted the party to woo upper caste voters, others felt the party should target minorities. A suggestion to target non-Yadav backward castes was also put forward at the meeting.