The Congress, which recently announced that it would contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh on its own, has scheduled 12 rallies of party president Rahul Gandhi across the state next month. Sources said Rahul is also keen to take a ‘holy dip’ at the Sangam during the ongoing Kumbh Mela.
Congress had announced its decision to fight elections alone a day after the SP and BSP announced their alliance, leaving it out.
Sources said that the first Rahul rally is likely to take place in Lucknow on February 2. AICC general secretary in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, state party chief Raj Babbar and other top leaders will be in the state capital Wednesday to finalise preparations and rally venues. They will also be meeting party leaders from Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Kannauj regions.
Apart from Lucknow, other venues shortlisted include Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Lok Sabha constituency Gorakhpur, Dimple Yadav’s constituency Kannauj, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, as well as Sitapur, Hapur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Aligarh, Bareilly and Agra, said sources.
This time, poll prep starts early
While Congress has been known to start poll preparations late, this time, it appears more proactive, and seems to be taking the lead planning for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The party has planned public meetings with Rahul Gandhi instead of the small ‘sabhas’ it used to organise. Before the 2017 Assembly elections too, Rahul had toured the state extensively and held ‘khat sabhas’. However, the party — which had gotten into a last-minute alliance with SP, failed to perform well.
Rahul is also likely to attend a rally in Bundelkhand and Banda, from where Congress might field former BSP leader Nassimuddin Siddiqui as a candidate.
“Senior leaders of the district, including former mayor and former MLAs have been called for the meeting in Lucknow to discuss the upcoming rallies of the Congress president,” said Anil Dwivedi, party’s district chief in Prayagraj. Even a meeting of the manifesto committee was held in Lucknow Saturday, said sources.
“Over the next month, our focus will be on the public meetings of Rahul Gandhi, which will start in the first week of February and end in the first week of March. The focus will be on farmers, unemployment, youth and women security. The rallies are also aimed at mobilising workers, who have been dull for some time,” said a senior Congress leader.
Meanwhile, party members have set up a camp at the ongoing Kumbh where they are distributing medicines through Sewa Dal volunteers and organising food every day for around 1,000-1,500 people, said Dwivedi.