The Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for nearly two decades, is gearing up for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat — considered an uphill battle — in a big way. And as part of the plan, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will launch the party’s campaign for the elections in the first week of September and then take part in four yatras — like the ones he had undertaken in Uttar Pradesh — in the four regions of the state.
The party has already divided the state into four regions and newly appointed AICC secretaries — Rajeev Satav, Varsha Gaikwad, Harshvardhan Sapkal and Jitu Patwari — have been given charge of each zone. AICC secretary Prakash Joshi, who was in charge of Uttar Pradesh, has been asked to be stationed in Gandhinagar to coordinate and monitor the election-related activities.
Rahul is set to be in Ahmedabad on September 4. He is slated to address a meeting of elected representatives of the party from district and taluka panchayats, kickstarting the campaign. The party has identified unemployment, corruption (on the basis of adverse CAG reports) and agrarian distress as the issues to be used to target the BJP government.
Sources said Gandhi’s will kickstart the yatra on September 21 from Dwarka in Saurashtra region, considered a BJP fortress. The yatra in Central Gujarat will begin from Dakor. All the four yatras will be led by the Congress vice-president and joined by state leaders. The duration of each yatra will be three to four days and will cover 12 to 15 Assembly constituencies.
Rahul plans to cover about 50 to 60 Assembly segments in 12 to 15 days. There will be a gap of three to four days between each yatra.
Although the exit of Shankersinh Vaghela has minimised the feud in the party, sources said, the appointments made last week should be seen in the context of an emerging factional fight. The appointment of four working presidents is seen as an attempt to clip state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki’s wings. Solanki does not enjoy good relations with party veteran and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel.
The appointment of Siddharth Patel, son of late former chief minister Chimanbhai Patel, as the chairman of the campaign committee, along with former state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia as head of the election publicity and material committee and Shaktisinh Gohil as media committee chief is also significant. All of them are considered close to Ahmed Patel.
Congress leaders said that Rahul’s yatra will highlight the plight of farmers and youth and how they have been misled by the BJP government which has made tall claims of providing jobs to the youths and raising the minimum support price(MSP) to farmers for their agriculture produce.
State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said that Vijay Rupani government, which was facing huge problems owing to immense infighting among various BJP groups, had failed to provide relief and rehabilitation to the flood-hit people in the state. A large number of people from the flood-affected areas, particularly in North Gujarat region, have complained that they had not received government help so far. He said the party also submitted a memorandum to Governor O P Kohli, seeking his intervention to direct the government to provide immediate relief to the flood-affected people. “The farmers and villagers are facing a lot of problems in the rural areas due to insensitive approach of the state government’’, said Solanki.
Solanki also said that the government had failed in keeping its promises of providing employment to educated and skilled youths. “The biggest problem the youth in the state is facing today is unemployment,” Solanki said, adding that if the Congress came to power, it would give monthly allowance of Rs 4,000 to to unemployed post-graduates, Rs 3500 to unemployed undergraduates and Rs 3,000 to 12th pass students.