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Rahul Gandhi’s Chhattisgarh tour from April 24

Gandhi will also attend a conference on Panchayati Raj in Raipur the same day. Chhattisgarh, along with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, will go to polls in November-December this year.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2018 23:01 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Chhattisgarh,Congress
Congress President Rahul Gandhi interacts with people at Jainab Ganj in his parliamentary constituency Amethi on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi will launch his election campaign for Chhattisgarh with a public meeting at Sitapur in Surguja district on April 24, nearly six months ahead of the assembly elections in the state.

Gandhi will also attend a conference on Panchayati Raj in Raipur the same day. Chhattisgarh, along with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, will go to polls in November-December this year.

Out of power in Chhattisgarh since 2003, the Congress is struggling to dethrone the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and three-term chief minister Raman Singh. In 2016, the Congress suffered a major setback after its senior leader and former chief minister Ajit Singh quit the party to form a new political outfit, Janata Congress Chhattisgarh.

Congress leaders feel Jogi could hurt their party’s chances by dividing the anti-BJP votes. However, the former CM has pitched himself as the main challenger to the BJP and dismissed the Congress as a third force. Prior to Jogi’s exit, the party’s entire front-line leadership, including Nand Kumar Patel, Mahendra Karma, Gopal Madhavan, Uday Kumar Mudaliar and VC Shukla, was wiped off in a deadly Maoist attack in May 2013.

The opposition party has a new team in Chhattisgarh with the appointment of PL Punia as All India Congress Committee (AICC) incharge, who will be assisted by Chandan Yadav. The challenges for the team will be to revive and strengthen the Congress at the grassroots level and build a new leadership in the state. However, the party leaders are confident of ousting the BJP this time, arguing that only 1% vote share separates the two parties. In the 2013 elections, the BJP had a vote share of 41.04%, while the Congress secured 40.29%. Of the 90 seats, the BJP won 49, Congress 39, BSP 1 and Independent 1.

Meanwhile, before leaving for Chhattisgarh, Gandhi will launch a ‘Save Constitution’ campaign at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium on April 23 to highlight alleged atrocities on Dalits.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 23:01 IST