The Congress is looking to cultivate farmers in its hunt for poll gains.
After party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s month-long Kisan Yatra in Uttar Pradesh , the Congress plans a similar outreach in Punjab. Farmers form a sizable chunk of voters in both the states that are expected to go to the polls early next year.
Built around the slogan Karza-Kurki Khatam, Fassal Di Poori Rakam (end of property attachment, full remuneration for crop), the two-week “door-to-door” campaign will begin October 12. The target is to reach out to 2.5 million households, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh said in Chandigarh on Sunday.
“Have said it before, saying it again. I will waive-off all farm debt, outlaw land dispossession & ensure timely procurement,” he tweeted on Monday.
The border state, which led the green revolution and played a big role in making India self reliant, is battling a farm crisis. Punjab reported the most farmer suicides in the country second only to Maharashtra. As many as 449 debt-ridden farmers killed themselves in the state in 2015. Maharashtra reported 725 such deaths.
Out of power in Punjab for a decade now, the Congress is eyeing a comeback in the state as farmers battle falling income and rising debts. More than 62% of the state’s 27.7 million people live in rural areas and are largely dependent on agriculture.
“The party will establish direct contact with 75 lakh voters through this outreach,” a Punjab Congress leader said of the party’s effort to counter the Shiromani Akali Dal, which holds sway in the rural areas.
Gandhi was unlikely to be part of the campaign’s first phase, sources said.
Party workers will take a maang patra (demand letter), like the one in Uttar Pradesh, to every home they visit.
Famers will be asked to furnish details about their families, land holdings and also debt. A receipt would be issued in return, which would be an “agreement guaranteeing debt waiver “ once the Congress comes to power.
The Congress has held several programmes to connect with the voters in the state, where a normally two-party contest has a third player -- Aam Aadmi Party -- this time.