New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took a leaf out of his Gujarat campaign to finalize a broad blueprint for his Madhya Pradesh campaign strategy and is likely to continue with temple visits in the poll-bound state.
Gandhi chaired a high-level meeting on Tuesday morning with senior leaders from the state and, given the electoral importance of Madhya Pradesh, it is likely that he would spend at least 30 days in the run-up to the polls there.
“The first phase of his campaign will be around a ‘bus yatra’ in which he will intermittently visit different places and address small rallies. His campaign is expected to begin from the third week of August and the starting point is likely to be the Omkareshwar Temple in Ujjain," a senior party functionary aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.
Gandhi’s campaign for Madhya Pradesh will be a replica of the Gujarat campaign and, amid other things, will include a visit to a prominent temple in Datia, said the leader quoted above. The temple visits of Gandhi are significant because the party president adopted a similar approach in both Gujarat and Karnataka elections, a move seen as a way to reach out to the Hindu community in poll-bound states.
Winning back Madhya Pradesh, where the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is fighting anti-incumbency, is a massive challenge for the Congress, which has been out of power for nearly 15 years now.
The importance of Madhya Pradesh for the Gandhi scion can be understood from the fact that despite two other states—Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—going to polls around the same time, the Congress party chief is expected to spend at least a month out of the expected campaign window of nearly three months in that state.
In Tuesday’s strategy meeting, Rahul also took stock of the party’s poll preparedness in the state. Senior party leaders like state unit chief Kamal Nath, campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia, coordination committee chief Digvijay Singh, general secretary in-charge Deepak Babaria and leader of opposition in the state Ajay Singh attended the meeting, a senior party leader said.
“A detailed plan is being worked out specially around candidate selection. We will give at least 100 days to probable candidates to have enough time to campaign in their regions. Winnability is the key criteria which we are looking at," another party leader from MP said, requesting anonymity.