Cong’s new campaign style: Dance, push-ups and deep sea diving
The distance between Lakhimpur in north eastern Assam and India’s southern tip of Kanyakumari is more than 3,000 kms. But on Monday, the two corners saw a similar political portrait: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Kanyakumari and his sister party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Assam, breaking into a dance with the locals.
On Tuesday, Priyanka followed it up by plucking tea leaves in Sadhuru tea garden at Biswanath district, connecting with a key vote bank in the populous north-eastern state going to three-phase polls from March 27.
Rahul, the top campaigner for the party in this round of assembly election in four states and a UT, too, came up with new ideas to reach out to the people. He joined the students of St. Joseph’s Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Mulagumudu of Kanyakumari in their dance. Then, he accepted a push-up challenge by Merolin Shenigha, a student who is also a Judo enthusiast.
Rahul, trained in Japanese martial art Aikido, did a bonus stunt of push-up with one hand to the thunderous applause of the students who came to meet him on a Sunday morning. A few days ago, in Kerala, he dived into the sea along with some fishermen and helped a group of villagers cook mushroom biryani in Tamil Nadu. He did it earlier too, when he joined MGNREGS workers in UP in their work when the UPA was in power.
All these antics are part of what is seen as a new-age Congress campaign with top leaders eager to break the barrier between them and the public. No more confined to addressing large meetings or road shows, Gandhis make it a more personal appearance and an engaging, direct interaction with their audience.
History of such engagements, of course, goes back to the days of Indira Gandhi when she would climb the barriers and freely interact with rural women frequently during her Prime Ministerial days. Or, when Rajiv Gandhi would drive his own jeep on dirt roads and meet people.
The BJP and other parties too, have come up with such plans to add a dash of personal touch in their political progammes. Sharing a meal with a villager, spending a night in a village or riding pillion with an aam admi, are all parts of a changing canvas of political propaganda.