Rahul Gandhi to kickstart Congress’ Gujarat campaign from Valsad today
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Rahul Gandhi to kickstart Congress’ Gujarat campaign from Valsad today

Through the Valsad rally, the Congress will aim to mobilise voters of three Lok Sabha constituencies – Surat, Navsari and Valsad.

lok sabha elections Updated: Feb 14, 2019 08:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Rahul Gandhi,Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat,Valsad
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a special press conference on (AICC) headquarters, in New Delhi on February 12.(HT File Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi will launch the party’s campaign for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat from the southern district of Valsad on Thursday as the state unit is battling factionalism, defections and internal criticism.

This will be Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to Gujarat in nearly a year after he led the Congress campaign for the 2017 assembly elections. The party had logged its best performance in decades winning 77 seats and restricting the BJP to 99 seats in 182-member assembly.

In the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, the Congress is facing an uphill task of restricting the BJP, which won all the 26 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Senior Congress leaders and MLAs have been camping in Lal Dungi, the venue of Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Dharampur taluka of Valsad.

“It is said that whoever wins in Valsad, wins Gujarat. Former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and ex-Congress president Sonia Gandhi have addressed rallies at the same venue in the past,” said a local Congress leader.

Through the Valsad rally, the Congress will aim to mobilise voters of three Lok Sabha constituencies – Surat, Navsari and Valsad. This southern belt, which shares a border with Maharashtra, has mixed demography of Patidars, minorities and tribals.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday held a cluster meeting for workers at Dharmpur. The rally was addressed by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Rahul Gandhi will be kickstarting the poll campaign in the western state at a time when the Gujarat unit of the Congress is riddled with factionalism. It also comes after the party lost its bastion Jasdan in a bypoll in December last year and two of its important MLAs, Kunvarji Bavaliya and Asha Patel, joined the BJP. Bavaliya, who represents influential Koli community, has now become a cabinet minister.

Congress’ OBC leader Alpesh Thakor has also been openly voicing discontent against the prevailing “system” and “state of affair” in the Gujarat unit, much to the discomfort of party leadership.

After putting a strong challenge to the BJP in the assembly elections, the Congress picked young leaders, Amit Chavda as the president and Paresh Dhanani as the leader of the opposition, to lead the state unit.

Congress’ state unit chief Amit Chavda has said a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is also scheduled in the state. It will be attended by top leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and newly-inducted general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, besides the party chief.

“… Our request to hold the CWC meet in Gujarat has also been accepted. In the coming days, Sonia ji, Rahul ji, Priyanka ji, Manmohan ji will visit Gujarat,” Chavda said, according to news agency Press Trust of India.

Chavda, however, said that the date and venue of the CWC meeting are yet to be finalised.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 08:35 IST