Congress Gets into Poll Mode; Discusses LS Poll Strategy, Manifesto, Seat Sharing at Key Meet

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Getting into poll mode, the Congress on Thursday initiated discussions on the party’s strategy, manifesto and seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha elections while also finalising the route map for the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, a hybrid version of the earlier foot march.

As the top leadership of the party got into a huddle at the Congress headquarters to give final shape to their plans, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge told party leaders to unite by sinking their differences and not talk out of turn on sensitive issues outside the party line that often causes embarrassment.

Sources said the party decided to concentrate with full strength on around half the Lok Sabha seats where the Congress stands a chance of victory. They added that the Congress is looking to contest more than half the total seats. The sources said the party has asked the state units to begin the process of candidate selection and provide the first list. It is likely to announce screening committees for all states by this week and candidate selection would start immediately, the sources add, noting that the party would declare the first list of candidates “very soon”.

Separately, the party initiated discussions for manifesto formation as the committee formed in this regard met for the first time and held discussions on key issues to be included in the party’s alternative positive agenda to be presented to people. The party’s committee on seat-sharing also held final discussions with the Congress president at his residence, where former party chief Rahul Gandhi was also present.

The committee, of which Mukul Wasnik is the convener and has former chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel in it, held final talks and suggested the way forward to the party leadership. The panel has already talked to all state units on seat-sharing talks with other parties. In his inaugural address, Kharge alleged the BJP is raising emotive issues to hide its failures of 10 years in power at the Centre.

“They deliberately involve Congress in every issue,” Kharge said at the meeting of party leaders from across the country. “We have to unite and give a befitting reply to the lies, deceit and wrongdoings of the BJP on grassroots issues in front of the people,” Kharge said as he asked the leaders to sink their differences, not raise internal issues in the media and work as a team.

He lauded Sonia Gandhi’s services as Congress president for 25 years and how she worked in every state to ensure that the Congress-led UPA defeated the NDA in 2004 and remained in power for 10 years. He also lauded Rahul Gandhi for undertaking the Kanyakumari-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra and expressed confidence that his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will bring issues of social justice to the centre of the national discussion.

“Back then, our workers in every village and city stood up. Today, we will have to work with the same dedication and hard work to take the party forward,” Kharge said. Noting that all the attacks of the BJP were on the Congress and the INDIA bloc, he said, “The NDA remains only in name while the INDIA bloc has major grassroots parties that have a strong cadre, base and ideology.” Accusing the Modi government of continuously trying to ignore the contribution of Congress towards creating a modern India, he said, “We have to give them a concrete answer”.

He asked the cadre to forever remember the contributions made by the Congress in the foundation of parliamentary democracy and modern India. “Because those who forget history, cannot create history,” he said.

and day, we will be able to provide an alternative government to the people after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, he said. “Leave aside differences, do not indulge in nitpicking and do not raise internal issues in the media and work as a team to ensure Congress’ victory,” he told the gathering.

Senior Congress leaders from across the country discussed the preparations for the upcoming yatra which has now been rechristened as Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra beginning January 14 and finalised its road map. The Manipur-Mumbai yatra starting on January 14 will travel through 100 Lok Sabha segments in 15 states including Arunachal Pradesh, with party leader Jairam Ramesh asserting it will prove to be as “transformative” as his earlier march.

He said the party is inviting all leaders of the Indian National Inclusive Developmental Alliance (INDIA) bloc to join the yatra anywhere along its route. “Only one thing was said in the context of alliance. Everyone said alliance has to be strengthened and we should not leave any stone unturned for it. In one voice everyone said the Congress president should take whatever step he deems necessary to strengthen the INDIA bloc,” he said.

The yatra’s route was finalised at the nearly three-hour meeting Kharge chaired with general secretaries, state in-charges, state unit chiefs and Congress Legislature Party leaders at the AICC headquarters here, Ramesh said. The yatra would stay the longest period in Uttar Pradesh, covering 1,074 km in 11 days. It would pass through the politically-vital areas of Amethi, Rae Bareli, Varanasi and Prayagraj.

Ramesh said the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra would traverse 6,713 km in buses and on foot. The yatra will cover 110 districts, 100 Lok Sabha seats and 337 assembly segments in 66 days, starting January 14 from Imphal. He asserted that the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra would prove to be as impactful and transformative as the earlier Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

Explaining the reason for the renaming the yatra from the earlier Bharat Nyay Yatra, Ramesh said all members who attended the meeting including Kharge were of the unanimous view that the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra had led to it becoming a brand in its own right and had gotten embedded in the minds of people. “The ‘Nyay’ idea comes from the first line of the preamble of the Indian Constitution which secures for all its citizens justice — social, economic and political,” he said.

This is the first meeting of the newly appointed party office bearers after Kharge carried out a reshuffle in December.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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