After Uttar Pradesh, Congress leaders will brainstorm over their game plan for the Punjab assembly polls in the presence of political strategist Prashant Kishor at a meeting called on March 12 by party vicepresident Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has been out of power in Punajb for the past decade and, party sources said, Rahul Gandhi wanted the “bad patch” to end.
Apart from the ruling SADBJP combine, the party is set to face a spirited challenge from AAP.
Rahul Gandhi has convened the meeting to facilitate a threadbare discussion with Punjab leaders to devise a winning strategy after two successive losses, with the last one then blamed by the AICC on the “overconfidence” of the state leadership. Congress sources said the AICC has brought in Kishor to “help and assist” the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab units to craft the party’s strategy for the crucial polls next year.
Kishor played a key role in victories of Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general elections and JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar assembly polls, which the Prime Minister and BJP president Amit Shah had turned into a prestige fight.
The meeting is being held at a time when state Congress leaders are getting increasingly wary about AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s aggressive campaign plans and his strategy of targeting voters through a vast army of volunteers. Kishor had effectively used his band of volunteers in the Bihar polls.
Preliminary survey done already
Talk is that Kishor has already conducted preliminary surveys and would come armed with inputs on what the Congress needed to do to win the state, after a string of disappointing losses.
The Congress has declared Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh as the party’s ‘face’ in the polls after Rahul Gandhi held a series of meeting with state leaders to persuade them to present a united face of the faction-ridden state unit. Amarinder, a former chief minister, is considered the most formidable leader of the party in the state.
The Congress had lost the last assembly elections despite Rahul Gandhi declaring Amarinder as the chief ministerial candidate in the midst of the campaign.