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New Delhi: The Rahul Gandhi-led Congress has finalized a media blitzkrieg and ground-level campaign to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over the Rafale fighter jet deal, which it hopes to make a key political issue.

The party is trying to take its anti-government protests to the masses ahead of the Lok Sabha elections slated for next year as it focuses on a more micro-level campaign approach by targeting districts.

While the plans have been in the pipeline for a few weeks, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot shot off a letter on 20 August to all the top national and state-level leaders that focused on a multi-pronged approach of press conferences by senior leaders, state-level agitations and district-level programmes such as protest marches.

Gehlot’s letter also talks about using the ‘model’ of aircraft. He told party workers that district-level marches should be organized with adequate posters, placards, hoardings and pamphlets, adding that some states have also come up with a model of the Rafale fighter aircraft.

A separate control room has been set up for “monitoring the district-level agitations and collecting the reports" of these campaigns.

The Congress move to turn the Rafale deal into a national campaign is vital as it has been raising the issue in the past few months, including in the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament, raising allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and the misleading of the people.

“We have all been informed about it and we are readying for the programme. If indeed it pans out the way we are trying, it could be one of our biggest rallying points since 2014 on a single issue," said a senior Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

“The Congress president desires that AICC (All India Congress Committee) general secretaries/ in-charges/ PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) presidents/ CLP (Congress Legislative Party) leaders should address the press conferences for maximum publicity and dissemination of the message," Gehlot’s letter read.

Senior leaders said these conferences are likely to be held in more than 90 cities.

The letter said the month-long programme will include press conferences from 25 August to 6 September by top leaders, district-level agitation programmes from 7 September to 15 September to be led by at least one senior leader and state-level agitations from 16 September to 30 September to be led by state leaders and in-charges as well and attended by at least one member of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s top decision making body.

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