Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday held a meeting with party leaders from Punjab to discuss political and organisational challenges in the state ahead of the 2017 assembly elections.
Sources said the meeting deliberated on the growing presence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab and decided to “counter the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit by exposing it”. Congress general secretary in charge of party affairs in Punjab Shakeel Ahmad termed the meeting “routine”.
On the role of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who attended the meeting, Ahmed said he was “advising the Punjab Congress president on political strategy ahead of the elections”. Kishor had no role in ticket distribution or organisational matters, he said.
The sources said the Congress was likely to present the AAP as a force that wanted to “help” the ruling Akali-BJP combine in the state. “The AAP will eat into anti-Akali, anti-BJP vote and end up helping the ruling combine. In the absence of the AAP, these votes would have consolidated behind the Congress. We will take this message to people,” said a party leader. Besides Ahmad, Kishor, and Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, campaign committee chairperson Ambika Soni, state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi, and Congress secretary Harish Choudhry attended the meeting.
The Congress seeks to wrest power from the Akali-BJP combine that has defeated it twice in a row.