The 2017 Assembly election in Punjab will see Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh campaign without his ‘khunda’ (a traditional staff), his trademark during the last elections, as the Congress has decided to embark on a ‘positive’ campaign, devoid of ‘spicy barbs’.
Amarinder, who led an aggressive campaign in 2012, has been advised by his strategist, Prashant Kishor, to shun the “stick” and “threats of hanging anyone upside down.”
“Though it would be a high-decibel blitzkrieg, we will not be aggressive with our words. We will not use the expression of ‘putting people behind bars’. We will just carry the Congress party’s positive agenda to every doorstep. Ours is not going to be a negative campaign in anyway,” said a senior party leader. He added that it has been decided that the campaign, being designed by Kishor, would overwhelmingly rely on positive messages. “The Congress has a very popular and positive agenda. It appeals to people of all walks of life,” he said.
Amarinder had been subjected to sharp criticism in the last Assembly elections. Even during his Lok Sabha polls, his entry into Amritsar, brandishing a sword, exposed him to unnecessary rebuke from the urban electorate. Besides, he was accused of bringing the political discourse to an unprecedented low.
The Congress will also launch an intensified campaign only during the latter part of the year despite wariness in the party over the AAP’s full-throttle campaign in Punjab. Sources in the Congress said Kishor has convinced party leaders that even if AAP was campaigning in the state, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal making a whirlwind tour of all three regions of the state including Malwa, Doaba and Majha, the Congress did not need to peak at this juncture as the elections are still an year away.
Capt throws gauntlet to Kejriwal
Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday challenged AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal to contest against him in the 2017 Assembly elections, including in any Assembly constituency of the latter’s choice. In a statement, Capt Amarinder said Kejriwal will realise the real ground situation in the state only when if he contests against him. He also took on the Akalis on the river water sharing issue by announcing to start protest marches soon. He asked the Punjabis to be prepared for the struggle to save Punjab’s waters. “I will soon be announcing the date for taking out the march to save waters and I will need your support”, he said.