New Delhi: Arch rivals the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who clashed in Parliament during the just concluded winter session, are now preparing to brainstorm on their respective strategies for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress held a review meeting on Thursday at its war room on Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road in New Delhi. The meeting was attended by the party’s top national and state leaders.

The BJP, which is in power at the centre, is scheduled to hold a two-day national council meeting in Delhi beginning Friday, which is expected to be attended by all lawmakers, legislators and office bearers of the party.

Senior Congress leaders said that a series of meetings—at least three—took place with treasurer Ahmed Patel, the core committee, and the data analytics department, particularly over Project Shakti, which is an internal digital platform.

“Today’s meeting was more of stock-taking and reviewing what is the progress on internal programmes ahead of the general elections. Special focus was on Project Shakti and the Jan Sampark Abhiyan (ongoing mass outreach programme). While we have been briefed about Shakti before, we were told about the different ways in which it can be leveraged during campaigning," said a state unit chief requesting anonymity.

The Congress also announced a series of organizational changes on Thursday. These included naming Sheila Dikshit as the state unit chief of Delhi and Kuldeep Singh Rathore as the state unit head of Himachal Pradesh. This move was made to ensure that the state units of the party are ready for the 2019 general elections.

Meanwhile, the BJP is gearing up for the national council meeting over the weekend, which is taking place after nearly four years. The meeting is crucial as it comes in the wake of the party recently losing the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in a direct contest with Congress.

“The entire effort is to prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP is in power in most of the states along with other members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The idea is to meet all public representatives and motivate BJP leaders and cadre to repeat the performance of the party during the 2014 general elections," said a senior BJP leader who will attend the national council meeting.

BJP leaders pointed out that the party would keenly look at the performance of the state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together hold 120 Lok Sabha seats and hold the key for the BJP to return to power in the 2019 elections. The party had won 104 of these 120 seats in 2014.

“The national council meeting would be the launch of the BJP’s 2019 campaign and that is why all public representatives and office bearers have been invited by the party. BJP leaders expect that our MPs and MLAs would take the message of development and the work done by the Union government to the people after this meeting," the BJP leader said.

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