Mumbai: The Mumbai unit of the Congress party plans to make best use of the arrival of its president Rahul Gandhi in nearby Bhiwandi for a court appearance.
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said Gandhi will be welcomed to the city by 1,000 auto-rickshaw drivers from the city as part of the party’s ‘Project Shakti’ to reach out to the common man.
“Many more auto rickshaw drivers came forward and offered to welcome Rahul ji. But we have been able to accommodate only 1,000. The Congress party is an aam aadmi’s party and this is evident from the affection the common man has for our party president," Nirupam said.
Gandhi is arriving to attend the hearing in a defamation suit filed by Rajesh Kunte, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member in Bhiwandi, some 50km from Mumbai. Kunte had filed the suit in March 2014, after Gandhi, who was then party vice-president, said in an election speech that “RSS people fired bullets at Mahatma Gandhi". In 2016, Rahul Gandhi decided to face trial rather than withdraw his statement or apologize.
The Congress president will also address the party’s booth workers at a convention in suburban Goregaon scheduled at 2.30 PM. A functionary of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) and Congress legislator, who did not wish to be named, told Mint that the party was reaching out to booth workers to “make them feel that they belonged to the party".
Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah was in Mumbai to meet a few prominent non-political personalities under his party’s ‘sampark for samarthan’ campaign.
“There has been some criticism in the media that the Congress party is not reaching out to its own workers the way BJP is. While we don’t agree that the BJP is reaching out to its karyakartas and common man — Madhuri Dixit, Ratan Tata, Lata Mangeshkar are neither BJP karyakartas nor are they common people -- , the Congress acknowledges the value of booth workers," the Congress legislator cited earlier said.
Maharashtra Congress leaders led by the state unit president and former chief minister Ashok Chavan will meet Gandhi to submit a proposal for a “grand alliance among like-minded parties" to defeat the BJP in the state.
At the booth workers’ convention, Rahul Gandhi would also launch the Congress party’s online campaign to reach out to grass-root workers, Nirupam said. Gandhi would release a video addressing Mumbai Congress workers at the convention. “In this video, Rahul ji would give his personal mobile number to the grass-root workers so that each worker can text his voter id number to him and establish a direct contact with the party president. This would be a personal number on which Rahul ji would be available to party workers and can also call them if he wants to take feedback," Nirupam said at a press conference.