June 19, 2021 1:00:45 am
Ahead of 2022 Assembly elections, the Gujarat Congress, which is grappling with a leadership crisis, is looking to touch base with families of those who have lost their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether counted as Covid-related death or otherwise.
Speaking exclusively to The Indian Express on Friday interim president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) Amit Chavda said that the party plans a major restructuring and will also appoint ‘jan mitras’ at booth levels and ‘page prabharis’, the latter on the lines of the BJP that appoints panna pramukhs or page pramukhs who are in charge of each page of the electoral rolls in their respective booths.
The Congress party that had won 77 out of 182 seats in 2017 Assembly elections — its best performance in the past two decades — will now be looking to bolster their seat count in 2022, counting on the general discontent among people towards depleted medical resources and subsequent staggering death figures during the second wave of the pandemic.
“We have planned to conduct a restructuring of the Congress from August wherein we would be looking to decentralize the party. The party will be re-structured at booth, block and district levels. We intend to have at least 62,000 ‘Jan Mitras’ of Congress at booth level and then appoint ‘page prabahari’ till January 2022,” said Chavda.
“This is for the first time that the people of all classes are feeling they committed a mistake by giving power to BJP. I believe we have the best shot to make our government in 2022 polls because the balloon of ‘Gujarat Model’ has burst and people can see how BJP had lied all these years in Gujarat,” he added.
“The state government official records say that around 10,000 people lost their lives due to Covid-19 in the past one and a half years, however, our party has data from families of those who died due to the infection, which is around 30,000. Moreover, there are many families who had lost their loved ones due to post-Covid complications, co-morbidities or other reasons and the government had refused to identify them as Covid-19 deaths. We believe that this figure is above two lakh people in Gujarat and our leaders and cadres will be visiting these families soon to understand their woes” the Congress leader further said.
Officially, the Covid 19 death toll in Gujarat stood at 10,018 till Thursday. The Gujarat Congress believes that unemployment, loss of livelihood, inflation and steep rates of fuel along with destruction caused during the recent Cyclone Tauktae in Saurashtra region- all viewed in the perspective of the ongoing pandemic, will be the issues the party will be contesting the upcoming polls on.
“Moreover, the pandemic year had broken down the education system forcing lakhs of students to suffer. We will also be raising issues of youth who have been forced to pay the fees despite educational institutes being shut. We will also make committees at the state level which will interact with farmers, medium and small businesses to understand their concern,” said Chavda.
While Chavda and his team might have their roadmap for 2022 laid out, the Gujarat Congress is currently dealing with a leadership crisis post their debacle in the 2021 local body polls.
After Chavda, 45, was appointed as GPCC president in early 2018, Congress couldn’t manage to win even a single seat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state. The party also lost eight of its MLAs from March 2020 to June 2020 who “resigned” from their posts amid allegations made by Congress of poaching against the BJP. On March 2, 2021, Chavda and Paresh Dhanani, leader of opposition (LOP) in the Assembly, had submitted their resignations due to the poor performance of the party in local body polls.
The two posts of GPCC president and LOP have been lying vacant for the past three months. The party also lost Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Satav, AICC in charge of Gujarat Ahmed Patel to Covid- 19. Manish Doshi, spokesperson for the GPCC, told The Indian Express that the party will get their new AICC Gujarat in-charge, new GPCC president and LOP by June-end.
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