How to mobilise voters and galvanise them against the BJP? Thirty-eight-year-old Faisal Patel, son of AICC treasurer and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, on Sunday addressed party workers in Valsad and Bharuch districts, giving them pointers on how and what issues to raise to mobilise voters in favour of the party with a view to defeating the BJP in the parliamentary elections a month away.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from his native village of Piraman in Bharuch district, the young Patel reeled out his plans for the road. “Besides Gujarat, I will also be campaigning for the party in Kerala and Delhi,” he said. “I will be going in the first week of April to campaign for party candidates in Wayanad and Kochi Lok Sabha seats in Kerala.”
Asked about his choice of candidates for Kerala, he said, “RG (Rahul Gandhi) has also been offered (the seat) to contest from Wayanad or some other seat in Kerala.”
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Following rumours on social media that he would be contesting from the Bharuch seat, which his father represented in the Lok Sabha thrice in the past, Faisal on Saturday posted a tweet to dispel rumours. Regarding those rumours, he said, “I immediately tweeted on Saturday to declare that I have no plans to contest polls, to clear the rumours and remove any doubt.”
On Sunday at two meetings with party workers, he emphasised his point. “I don’t want to contest elections. I am a grassroots Congress worker,” he said in the presence of senior party leaders such as former state president Arjun Modhwadia and Qadeer Peerzada. “I will only be helping the party fight the elections.”
Faisal told party workers the importance of poll booth management—from ensuring that voters reach the booths to making sure that they cast their votes—in winning elections. He asked grassroots workers to remind people about how the Union government’s demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST resulted in massive unemployment. He also talked about raising other issues such as the weakening of national institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Reserve Bank of India by the BJP-led NDA government and the alleged rampant corruption in the controversial Rafale deal benefiting a corporate house.
Faisal said he would address party meetings in other parts of the state as well. “But my focus would be mainly Bharuch and nearby areas,” he said.
Faisal Patel, a management graduate from Harvard, has been engaged in social work for the past decade in the tribal belt of South Gujarat, particularly Bharuch, Narmada, Tapi and other districts, through his HMP Foundation, which runs a multi-specialty hospital and mobile dispensaries that provide medical services free of cost.