It’s a case of once bitten, twice shy. The Congress has learnt from its mistakes in previous elections, including the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, when it provided its workers with brand new cars for campaigning, only to have them not return them.
This time, for the assembly elections in Gujarat, the party is ‘Innova-ting’. Instead of presenting its workers with brand new vehicles, it has decided to hire 300-odd Innovas for 60 days, till the third week of December. The experience in UP had left a gaping hole in the state unit’s exchequer.
Said to be the brainchild of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, under the new scheme, the party will hire vehicles for its office-bearers, district presidents and block presidents. The party will pay for the petrol as well. The cars will come complete with drivers.
The Congress has even come up with a catchy little motto for its fleet of cars — ‘Chak De! Congress’, a take on the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer — as it strives to take on the BJP’s Narendra Modi, attacking him for his unfulfilled promises, style of functioning and non-use and misuse of central funds.
The car rental expenses, to be bourn by the party’s district unit, will be substantially lower than what the party would have incurred had it purchased the vehicles. An Innova costs between Rs 7 and 9 lakh while the total rent for the hired vehicles would be less than Rs 1 lakh, according to a leader.
The first batch of 15 Innovas has already been procured and was distributed among block presidents in Valsad on Thursday. If the experiment proves to be a success, the party intends to replicate it in other states as well.