Punjab Congress likely to kick-start Lok Sabha polls preparations next week
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar will kick-start preparations for Lok Sabha elections by holding meetings in each of the 13 parliamentary segments.Updated: Jan 07, 2019 14:21 IST
The days of “inner-circle” politics in Congress may be giving way to more internal democracy in Punjab. Starting next week, the party will be reaching out to its district and block-level office-bearers and workers for feedback, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Amid talks of revamp in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and district Congress committees (DCCs), some still being headed by ministers and MLAs against party’s ‘one man, one post’ formula, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar will kick-start preparations for Lok Sabha elections by holding meetings in each of the 13 parliamentary segments.
“We have a winning team that delivered in 2017 state elections. The winter session of the Parliament will end next week. We will then begin interactions with DCCs in all 13 seats to get feedback from party workers and leaders on candidates, schemes rolled out by the government, what more needs to be done and issues to be taken up in the Lok Sabha polls. We have to be ready to brief Congress president Rahul Gandhi when he wants to,” Jakhar, who represents Gurdaspur LS seat, said. The party will set into motion its ‘Mission 13’ — to win all 13 LS seats — declared by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at Lambi during a rally on October 7 last year.
The workers will also be directly involved in the decision-making process through the ‘Shakti’ mobile app, which was used by the Congress in recent state polls in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where it has returned to power. The app has booth and district-level data which the party can use to conduct surveys on winnability of a candidate. Party insiders say Rahul Gandhi is pushing for more power to the cadre.
“He had not only met Congress workers ahead of selecting the party’s chief ministers for the three states but also held an audio poll to choose them on the ‘Shakti’ app,” a senior leader said.
Prepared by All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s data analytics department in February last year, the app has information on each and every party worker, in every booth across the country. Rahul Gandhi has a real-time monitor in his office to keep a tab on the ground reality. They are classified into six categories — voters, sympathisers, workers, active workers, office-bearers and leaders.
Besides candidates, the ruling Congress will also get feedback on delivery of poll promises during interactions with party’s rank and file. Though the state’s debt-waiver scheme model has been replicated by the Congress in other states, the party MLAs believe it has led to more resentment than contentment among farmers. Hundreds of farmers under the banner of BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) last week protested outside banks, accusing the Congress government of “offering only lip service” to the farmers on the loan-waiver.
They have criticised CM’s claims on farm loan-waiver as “false”, saying the ground reality was completely different and the government was not presenting the true picture. Jakhar, however, contends the waiver was for marginal and small farmers and not the affluent ones. “It has reached the most needy. We are also arranging funds for writing off loans of landless farmers and agricultural labour, besides suicide-hit families,” he said, rubbishing all criticism.
To woo youth voters, the Punjab government will also be soon rolling out its scheme to distribute free smartphones to those passing out of government schools, colleges and polytechnics. But it would be able to cover just 40,000 youth in the first phase, before the model code of conduct kicks in. The party manifesto has promised smartphones to all youths and 30 lakh of them had registered under the ‘Captain Smart Connect’ scheme before the state polls in 2017.
But the number of beneficiaries will be curtailed to those who testify to not owning a smartphone, something that party leaders fear can lead to heartburn among the left-outs like it happened in the loan-waiver scheme.
First Published: Jan 07, 2019 14:19 IST