Having fielded many of its heavyweights in Delhi after an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party failed to materialise, the Congress is set to throw all its might into the campaign, which will involve party president Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The party, sources said, is planning to hold a Rahul-Priyanka roadshow as well as a rally which will be addressed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. According to sources, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could be asked to address a press conference.
Priyanka has campaigned outside Uttar Pradesh only twice so far — once for Sushmita Dev in Silchar and the other time for her brother Rahul in Wayanad. Sonia Gandhi, on the other hand, has not addressed any rally so far.
The Congress has fielded many members of its old guard, including DPCC president Sheila Dikshit, after talks with the AAP collapsed. Asked whether a pact was still possible and if some of the candidates could be asked to withdraw, a senior Congress leader said the AAP’s final offer of two seats to the Congress was not acceptable.
“While the technical possibility is there till the last date of withdrawal, I don’t think there is much scope,” a senior leader said.
Sources said the party had to tweak some of its candidates and their seats at the last minute. For instance, the party wanted to field veteran and former minister Raj Kumar Chauhan from North West Delhi, but the seat was given to Rajesh Lilothia keeping the community arithmetic in mind. Click here for more election news
Similarly, the initial plan was to field J P Agarwal from North East Delhi.
“Rahul Gandhi was clear that Sheila Dikshit should contest elections. He told us that she should be given the seat of her choice. She chose North East Delhi. So we had to move Agarwal to Chandni Chowk, where he had been an MP in the past,” a senior leader said.
Sources said the plan to field wrestler Sushil Kumar had to be shelved as he backed out at the last minute. “He told us not to announce his name… we believe his resignation from the government service was not accepted on time… So Mahabal Mishra was fielded. Meanwhile, we also got a confirmation from Vijender Singh. He is a better choice as the South Delhi constituency has a larger number of Jat and Gurjar voters… we believe he is popular among the young generation as well,” a senior leader said.