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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

100 Congress candidates asked to emulate Rahul Gandhi

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 16, 2014
First Published: 23:42 IST(16/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:51 IST(17/3/2014)

With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) trying to spread its wings across several states, the Congress wants its candidates to copy the model that has been evolved by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s model to reach out to micro-groups of voters.

After AAP hijacked the Congress’ political plank based on the aam aadmi, the ruling party’s strategists had been forced to widen the scope of its pet vote-bank, calling it the not-rich-not-BPL (NRNB) class. Rahul Gandhi estimated that this class comprised about 700 million people.

In a letter sent recently to select 100 candidates, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, asked them to hold at least two meetings with the NRNB groups.

Gandhi has spearheaded this move by holding meetings with railway porters in Delhi, saltpan workers in Gujarat and aanganwadi workers in Maharashtra.

The Congress has identified candidates, mostly in urban areas, to emulate this exercise.

The list includes Ajay Maken and Sandip Dikshit in Delhi, Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram and Milind Deora in South Mumbai. Anu Tandon, who represents Unnao — a largely rural belt — and Deepender Hooda (Rohtak) have also been included in this list.  The candidates have been asked to identify the top NRMB groups like rickshaw-pullers, construction workers or artisans, in their respective areas and organise two events on as many select groups.

A day before the presentation of the interim railway budget, Gandhi met railway porters in New Delhi railway station for a free-wheeling interaction.

He carried forward this process with street vendors and other groups and on Saturday, his latest NRMB walk-the-talk was organised with street food vendors of old Delhi area.

But with time fast running out and faced with a multi-corner electoral contest, the Congress is desperate to emulate this exercise among more representatives to reach out to target groups more effectively.


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