In a bid to boost Congress prospects in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will set out on his longest campaign trip next month.
The yatra, which will begin from Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh on September 6, will cover 2,500 km in nearly four weeks. Rahul’s yatra route will pass through 55 Lok Sabha constituencies and 223 Assembly segments across 39 districts. He is set to address small public meetings in 21 districts.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said Rahul will not address any big public meeting during the yatra, but take part in small rallies and roadshows in towns on the yatra route.
Sources said Rahul would raises issues like floods, the government’s failure to provide crop loss compensation and non-payment of sugarcane dues. The party has also drawn up an ambitious mass outreach plan to reach 25,000 houses in each and every block of Uttar Pradesh.
With Congress president Sonia Gandhi unwell, Rahul is likely to lead the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh. Sources said sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will campaign outside Rae Bareli and Amethi for the first time and she is expected to hit the ground running some time in October.
Sources said the yatra is also aimed at altering the perception that Rahul is an “appear-and-vanish” politician who makes public appearances once in a while and then retreats into the confines of his home.
Drawing lessons from the BJP’s “carpet-bombing” campaign style, the Congress has already rolled out a series of mass contact programmes after declaring Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial face, in a departure from the usual practice of not naming a candidate. Dikshit and state Congress chief Raj Babbar are already leading two separate yatras in the state. Rahul’s yatra, Azad said, will not disturb those yatras.