Manmohan likely to hit poll trail via video-conferencing

Though PM Manmohan Singh may not be a crowd-puller,campaign managers of the Congress are burning the midnight oil deliberating on ways and means to connect him to the masses.....

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | Published:March 9, 2009 12:17 am

Though PM Manmohan Singh may not be a crowd-puller,campaign managers of the Congress are burning the midnight oil deliberating on ways and means to connect him to the masses,in case his convalescence takes longer and keeps him off a gruelling campaign. The ruling party’s election strategists have,therefore,decided to organise video-conferencing for the PM to address public rallies.

Although the PM resumed office last Thursday,he may not recuperate fully in time to be able to take part in a strenuous poll campaign,according to a key strategist of the ruling camp. “While we have decided to connect the PM to the masses through video-conferencing at public meetings,we are also looking at other ways to ensure his direct reach to the people,” he said.

The possibility of the PM participating in the party’s campaign also looks dim — at least for the first phase of polling on April 16 — given the ruling party’s decision to kick-off and also end its campaign much early,it was reliably learnt. As per the party’s plan,its star campaigners — Congress president Sonia Gandhi,AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and the PM,in case of his availability — have to stop campaigning about a week before the date of election.

This was decided in view of the fact that party candidates and the entire party machinery in particular states generally abandon mass contact programmes and door-to-door campaigning at a crucial stage just to ensure the success of rallies to be addressed by top leaders,according to Congress sources. Therefore,it has been decided not to “disturb” candidates for a week or 10 days before the date of polling. To this end,the star campaigners will also hit the campaign trail early from the third week of March.

Manmohan Singh figures prominently in the party’s strategy for 2009 elections. The PM,Sonia and Rahul are the three mascots projected in the party posters installed in every constituency. While Sonia is supposed to convey everything that the Congress stands for — history,ideology,secularism and sacrifice — Rahul is the youth icon. The PM represents the face of development.

According to Jairam Ramesh,coordinator of the election-related affairs of the Congress,if the 2004 election was about “promises” that the Congress had made,the one in 2009 is about “delivery”. And Manmohan’s role in ensuring this delivery — the ruling party’s central poll plank — can never be over-emphasised. That explains the Congress think tank’s anxiety to connect him to the masses.

As for delivery,the party has prepared constituency-wise report cards — detailed accounts of the impact in a particular constituency of the Centre’s developmental programmes like NREGA,mid-day meal scheme,Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana,etc. These reports will be furnished to party candidates to recount the story of development carried out by the UPA Government.

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