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‘Only people issues, no religious politics’: Rahul Gandhi

A Congress spokesperson, who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gandhi identified issues like agrarian distress, jobs, price rise, women’s safety and corruption in the context of Rafale jet fighter deal and bank scams as the people-centric issues they need to stay focused on.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2018 23:11 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,religious politics,religious-themed political narrative in
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has asked his party’s spokespersons to focus on the people’s issues and to avoid falling into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s trap of establishing a religious-themed political narrative in the run-up to the 2019 assembly elections.(Amal KS/HT Photo)

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has asked his party’s spokespersons to focus on the people’s issues and to avoid falling into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s trap of establishing a religious-themed political narrative in the run-up to the 2019 assembly elections.

He issued the directions at a meeting with the Congress’s talking heads at his residence in Delhi on Thursday. The meeting was called to discuss the party’s media strategy for the 2019 polls.

A Congress spokesperson, who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gandhi identified issues like agrarian distress, jobs, price rise, women’s safety and corruption in the context of Rafale jet fighter deal and bank scams as the people-centric issues they need to stay focused on.

The Congress, which will celebrated its 134th foundation day on Friday, is also including fresh faces in its team of spokespersons and media panelists as part of its election preparedness.

The Congress’s chief spokesman, Randeep Singh Surjewala, attended the meeting along with Ragini Nayak, Pawan Khera, Jaiveer Shergill, Rajiv Tyagi, Akhilesh Pratap Singh, and Gourav Vallabh.

Gandhi asked them not to “get derailed by the BJP’s politics of religion”. “He [Gandhi] told us to focus on the BJP government’s report card and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not talk about the real issues like jobs, farmers and corruption,” said another spokesperson, who attended the meeting.

Gandhi said the party should fight the 2019 elections solely on the people-centric issues and not “fall into the BJP’s trap” and divert attention from the “failures” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Gandhi cited “the positive and credible narrative” that the party had focused on in the assembly elections held in five states in November and December. Congress wrested power from the BJP in there of the five states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.

Gandhi is also expected to make other organisational changes. He will have to find the replacement for Ashok Gehlot, who was general secretary in-charge of organisation and training before taking over as Rajasthan chief minister this month.

Haryana has been without an in-charge since April when general secretary Kamal Nath was appointed as the Madhya Pradesh Congress chief. Gandhi will have to name new party heads in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh to replace Nath and Bhupesh Baghel, who took over as chief ministers of the two states this month.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has requested Gandhi to relieve him of his organisational responsibilities on medical grounds.

BJP declined to comment.

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 23:11 IST