IN ITS efforts to revive the party ahead of the 2017 elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is set to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his claims of development from Varanasi — his Lok Sabha constituency — by launching the ‘Dard-e-Banaras’ campaign.
While the party’s ‘27 Saal, UP Behal’ campaign is meant for the whole of UP, Dard-e-Banaras would only focus on Varanasi and target the PM’s claims about cleaning of Ganga and betterment of weavers and boatsmen, among others. The campaign would be undertaken before Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s August 2 road show in Varanasi.
Sources said while Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would focus on targeting the SP government and other parties from Lucknow on July 29, Sonia would target the PM and BJP from Varanasi on August 2. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who was in Lucknow on Tuesday to oversee preparations for both Lucknow and Varanasi campaigns, held several rounds of meetings with senior leaders. Party MLA from Varanasi, Ajai Rai, was also present.
For the Dard-e-Banaras campaign, a series of professionally created vidoes are already being circulated on the social media. In these videos, locals are seen speaking about the alleged lack of development in Varanasi and how promises have not been fulfilled in the last two years since Modi came to power.
One video released by Congress on YouTube on Monday shows a boatman saying river Ganga was still the same and that the Prime Minister’s visits to Varanasi are centred around photo ops.
Congress MLA from Varanasi, Ajai Rai, said: “We would remind the people of Varanasi that they have not chosen an MP but the Prime Minister of this country. Thus, they have the right to question him on his claims of development. Modi’s claims during the Lok Sabha elections had began from Varanasi… he spoke about bringing development in 60 months, which has not been done in the last 60 years. Our campaign will question him on each of these points.”
Rai, who has been made campaign in-charge for Varanasi division, added: “We are happy that Gorakhpur has got an AIIMS but BHU in Varanasi, which caters to a large section of eastern UP and neighbouring Bihar, has not been upgraded. The condition of weavers has deteriorated and every one can see how far Ganga has been cleaned.”