New Delhi: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are likely to be the party’s ‘star campaigners’ for the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar with the state unit inviting the brother-sister duo to hold rallies.
“We have invited both Rahul ji and Priyanka ji to hold rallies in the state. We have requested Rahul ji to hold six rallies, and Priyanka ji for 2-3 rallies in the coming weeks,” Samir Kumar Singh, Bihar Congress working president told ThePrint.
The party will decide on the dates for the rallies once they receive a confirmation by the two leaders, Singh said.
Assembly election in Bihar will be held in three phases — 28 October 28, 3 November and 7 November. Results will be announced on 10 November.
The Congress, which released its first list Wednesday, will field candidates on 70 of the 243 assembly seats, while its alliance partners — the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Left parties will contest on 144 seats and 29 seats, respectively.
On being asked if the Congress has been late in campaigning since the BJP launched its ‘Atma Nirbhar Bihar’ poll campaign in September, and has also appointed 9,500 IT cell heads in Bihar to help spread their political message, Singh said his party has been holding rallies in every district. “We have been holding rallies in every district, complying with the norms of gathering. We will now amplify our campaigning.”
Handling of Covid pandemic, migrant crsisis to be key issues
Sources in the Congress said that the party has decided to make CM Nitish Kumar’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent migrant crisis as the “biggest poll issues”.
“We don’t need to look for an issue in Bihar. The handling of coronavirus is for everyone to see, the NITI Aayog confirmed it,” a senior party leader said.
The Covid-19 testing rate per million was said to be the lowest in Bihar among 19 states, according to the data released by Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog in July.
The party will also remind people that Congress president Sonia Gandhi “paid for the tickets” for migrants to return home, the leader quoted above said.
Sonia Gandhi had, in May, announced that the Congress party will bear the cost of rail travel of migrant workers returning to their native states during nationwide lockdown.
The Hathras ‘gang-rape’ and assault case is also likely to become a poll issue in the elections, with Congress leaders hopeful that it will help them win over Dalit votes.
“The Hathras incident was both a disservice to Dalits as well as women. The voters must be reminded that if the BJP administration can do what they did in our neighbouring state of UP, they can also do that in Bihar,” another senior Bihar Congress leader said.
ThePrint had reported last week that the Adityanath government had amended its strategy after the party high command in Delhi, which was concerned over the Hathras outrage, stepped in.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death
The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput is also likely to be an issue, with the BJP even releasing posters “seeking justice” for the actor last month.
The Congress leadership at the Centre has kept distance from the controversy surrounding Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, even terming it the “politicisation” of the actor’s death by the BJP in the state.
However, Congress leaders in Bihar say it will “inevitably” become a poll issue.
“This is a very emotional issue for everyone in Bihar. We need to rise above party politics for this. But we will remind the voters that Congress was the first one to demand a CBI probe in the actor’s death,” another party leader said.