With the Congress leadership discussing organisational changes after the Rajya Sabha elections, the party has begun rolling out its battle strategy for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, where assembly elections are to be held in early 2017, party sources told HT.
“The organisational revamp is already overdue and on its own will be insufficient to revive the Congress. We need to win elections for that,” a senior leader said.
In a meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi last week, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh and poll strategist Prashant Kishor got the go-ahead for implementing a 200-day plan for the 2017 elections in the state, a source involved in framing of the strategy said.
For Uttar Pradesh, Kishor’s team has prepared a plan that will be implemented once the party decides the face of its campaign in the state for 2017. The team, in consonance with Gandhi’s office in Delhi, has prepared a blue-print for reviving the party organisation “from the block-level upwards”.
Capt Singh, who is the party’s chief ministerial face in Punjab, begins a new leg of the programme ‘Coffee with Captain’ in Pathankot, where he will meet 2,000 ex-servicemen on Wednesday evening. The backdrop of the meeting will be the Pathankot airbase attack and the Pakistan policy of the Narendra Modi government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a part. Punjab has a large number of ex-servicemen who are seen as not just a vote-bank but also influencers in elections.
In the last week of June, Capt Singh will begin a door-to-door campaign in the strongholds of the ruling SAD in the state. The idea, sources said, is to show that Capt Singh, who became chief minister in 2002 after running an aggressive campaign against the SAD and particularly its leader Parkash Singh Badal, is still his aggressive self.
“The campaign will help the Congress counter the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party..., which has been aggressively taking on the state government,” a party leader said.
In UP, experts feel the party missed a strong chance of revival in the last assembly elections in 2012, when it had 22 Lok Sabha MPs from the state. “There are too many players in UP and revival for the Congress will be a difficult task,” said political analyst and author Prof Sudha Pai.
Delaying the implementation of the plan will only make Congress’ task more difficult, she added. “Over the years, people seem to have deserted the Congress and gone to other parties. The SP will do anything to win and so will the BJP, the party is up against that.”
The party also plans to push the frontal organisations into reviving Congress in UP, where the party has been out of power for over a decade and a half.