THE Congress is set to start the second phase of its campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections immediately after conclusion of the Winter Session of Parliament, but poll strategist Prashant Kishor, it is learnt, is being kept out of the exercise.
The second leg of the campaign is being launched at a time when the Congress is in talks with the ruling Samajwadi Party for a pre-poll alliance. But sources indicated that the talks have not made much headway because of differences on seat-sharing and the Congress has now decided to go ahead with its campaign.
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“If the BJP is to be stopped, all secular parties have to come together. It is not the responsibility of the Congress alone. Regional parties should also think on the same lines,” a senior Congress leader said.
According to the plan drawn up by the party, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary in-charge of UP Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s CM face Sheila Dikshit and state Congress president Raj Babbar will tour the state and hold public meetings.
There is still no word on whether Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra will campaign.
Rahul Gandhi will address two meetings this month, in Jaunpur on December 19 and in Bahraich on December 22.
The campaign plan has been drawn up by Azad in consultation with other leaders. Sources said Kishor is not part of the exercise. The poll strategist, however, is still with the Congress in UP. But nearly a year after he was roped in to plan the Congress strategy for the 2017 elections, his involvement stands curtailed. His team, however, is still working on the ground.
Although the Congress has come down from its initial demand of 100 seats, sources said it cannot accept SP’s offer of 50-60 seats. “That will be humiliation,” a senior party leader said.
On Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the two parties would win over 300 of the 403 Assembly seats if they contested the election together.
However, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday evaded a question on the pre-poll alliance.
Meanwhile, he received two crore ‘kisan maang patras’, seeking waiver of farm loan debt and reduction in power tariff, which the party got signed by farmers in the last three months.