Rahul Gandhi to begin ‘active’ campaign for Bengal soon, says functionary
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will “actively” campaign in West Bengal for the ongoing assembly elections but only towards the last few phases to focus on the party’s strongholds, key functionaries said on Wednesday.
Polling in the state, which is being held in eight phases, began on March 27 and will continue till April 29.
The former Congress president has so far campaigned in the remaining three poll-bound states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, and in the Union territory of Puducherry where the stakes remain high for the Grand Old Party.
Gandhi is likely to visit Bengal only after the fifth phase.
The Congress strongholds in Bengal are in a few districts such as Malda, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and parts of north Bengal.Polling in these seats will take place in the last three phases.
“He is definitely going. He will do a good campaign and the plans (for the same) are underway,” a key member of his team said, preferring anonymity.
Former Bengal Congress unit chief Pradip Bhattacharya said: “For us, the main battle starts after the fifth phase. We have already finished primary talks with Rahul’s team about his campaign.”
In Bengal, the Congress is fighting in 92 of the 294 seats in agreement with the Communist Party of India CPI(M)-led Left Front. In 2016, the Congress had bagged 44 seats while the Left had secured 26 seats.
The two parties, however, have emerged as main rivals in Kerala. This has also added to speculations whether Gandhi will hold any joint campaign with the Left in Bengal.
“The unwritten understanding is we will talk about the Bengal plan only after the Kerala elections are over. Even now, it’s psychologically too close to discuss Bengal with the top Congress leadership,” a senior CPI(M) leader said, preferring anonymity.
While Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front (ISF) is also a part of the front and has got 38 seats from the Left, the Congress has tried to keep itself aloof from the new party.
Congress leaders insist that Gandhi too will not share the dais with the ISF during his poll campaign.