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Not just padyatras, take up people’s issues — Congress plans for mass mobilisation

At meeting with Sonia Gandhi, leaders say Congress must take up issues such as Sonbhadra massacre, shutdown of factories in Rae Bareli in a language people understand.

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New Delhi: Buoyed by the results of the Haryana and Maharashtra elections, the Congress party is now deliberating on ways to increase its grassroots connect across the country.

At a meeting of senior party leaders chaired by interim chief Sonia Gandhi Saturday, several leaders pointed to the election results in the two states, where the Congress fared way better than expected, to suggest that the electorate was shifting towards the party.

General secretary in-charge UP (East) Priyanka Gandhi said the party needed to “break away from tradition” and take up issues of the people to capitalise on this shift.

“Priyanka highlighted that Congress needed to move from only its traditional padyatra routes and take up the issues of the people where they feel it the most like Sonbhadra (massacre) and Rae Bareli (shutdown of factories),” said a Congress leader.

The leaders also discussed the different ways in which the party can mobilise the masses. “As a responsible opposition, we need to take up the issues of the people in a language they understand,” said senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil. “Soniaji took everyone’s suggestions and gave a patient hearing.”

Gohil’s views were echoed by general secretary in-charge (Jharkhand) R.P.N. Singh at the meeting. “RPN raised a very important point,” said a second Congress leader. “He said Surjewala mentions so many numbers but most of it escaped him too (RPN). He said we needed to translate the numbers so that people understand them.”

The meeting consisted of general secretaries in-charge of states and heads of various departments and frontal cells.

Also read: To keep BJP out of power or stay secular — Sonia Gandhi weighs options on Shiv Sena tie-up 

Change in voter mood

The briefing began with Sonia asking Congress communications department in-charge Surjewala to brief senior leaders about the kind of events the party’s plans in its ‘agitation’ between 15 and 25 November. They also discussed coming up with a parallel narrative to the “propaganda” of the BJP on contentious issues such as the Ram temple and the uniform civil code.

“The mandate in Haryana and Maharashtra shows that people want to vote for the Congress,” said a third senior leader at the meeting.

The first leader, who also attended the meeting, told ThePrint that the verdict was a testament to change in the mood of the electorate across the country and not a vindication of the local leadership.

“Our local leaders themselves didn’t expect this,” said the first leader. “If they knew, we might just have formed the government in Haryana.”

Senior Congress leader Gohil, however, differed in his assessment. “Only one factor could not have gotten us such results,” he told ThePrint Monday. “It is a combination of the local leadership’s efforts and a change in voter mood.”

Also read: Rahul Gandhi shouldn’t stand in the way of Congress’ regional leaders like Amarinder Singh 

Barely any mention of Rahul

Unlike previous meetings where Congress leaders would highlight former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s involvement in the party, this time his name was mentioned only once. According to the first Congress leader, only one leader present at the meeting mentioned Rahul Gandhi’s tweet on Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.

Rahul, sources said, is at present at on a “meditation” break in Indonesia. He is slated to be back later this week and will join the party’s agitations from 15 November. Unlike other leaders, he will not be addressing a press conference as of now.

Also read: Bhupinder Singh Hooda fought a two-pronged battle, within Congress and against BJP 


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