Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is planning to reconnect with the people through mass-contact programmes across the country in an attempt to reverse his party’s slipping political fortunes, sources said on Monday.
The Jan Sampark Yatras would replicate the strategy adopted by former Congress prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi after their poll defeats in 1977 and 1989 respectively. Both leaders undertook India tours to renew their ties with the masses and meet party workers who felt alienated by the central leadership.
The party did stage a comeback on both occasions as Indira Gandhi returned to rule in 1980 while Rajiv Gandhi’s direct contact with the people and the sympathy wave that followed his assassination helped the Congress regain power in 1991, with veteran PV Narasimha Rao taking over as the prime minister.
Rahul is keen to emulate these past successes to arrest his party’s downward slide after the Congress registered its worst-ever performance in this year’s Lok Sabha elections and was also humiliated in last month’s assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, sources said.
“We will go back to the people because they are the repository of all wisdom,” said a senior Congress functionary.
Rahul has been holding brainstorming sessions with senior and young leaders of the party after the recent assembly elections. In almost all these meetings, the leaders have concluded that there is disconnect between the party and the people as well as the ordinary workers, said insiders.
Apart from recommending the mass-contact programmes, some party members have also suggested that the leadership should revive the old practice of holding “junta durbars” to interact with the workers. “The huge wall between leaders and workers created by some vested interests needs to be demolished,” said a senior leader.
Though the dates for Rahul’s programmes are yet to be finalised, the party’s state units have been directed to launch roadshows and mass-contact events to target the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre over issues concerning farmers, labourers and non-fulfilment of its poll promises, including getting back the black money stashed in foreign banks.
In Congress-ruled states, the party will also attempt to highlight its achievements.
Taking the lead, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) started a month-long mass contact programme, called Janapaksha Yatra, on Sunday to galvanise the organisation. The campaign will conclude in Thiruvananthapuram on December 9 after crisscrossing all districts of the state.
“The yatra will highlight the UDF government’s achievements including steps taken to rid the state of the liquor and drug menace,” KPCC chief VM Sudheeran said.