NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday fine-tuned its general election strategy in a meeting chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi, laying down a seven-point agenda that included key decisions on finalizing candidates by the month end, future alliances, contours of seat sharing and a broad campaign strategy.

Gandhi presided over the meeting with all the general secretaries and state in-charges at the party’s Delhi headquarters. It was the first official meeting to be attended by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra since being given the charge of Uttar Pradesh east.

“Youth and experience is the way forward and strength of the Congress party. In the Lok Sabha elections, a mix of this, especially women, backward classes, and the youth, need to be motivated during candidate selection. New faces need to be brought in rather than those who have lost elections 2-3 times," the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters after the meeting.

Since Gandhi took over, the Congress has been trying to balance young faces and veterans, who have often been at loggerheads in the past. The move to field the youth as opposed to those who may have lost elections in the past is significant as this has been a long-standing demand by a section of party leaders, particularly from the state units.

Referring to the “seven point agenda" set by Gandhi, Surjewala said the process of candidate selection will take place by the end of the month so that the party’s policies can be spread extensively on the ground.

According to a senior party leader who attended the meeting, special focus was paid to UP. Both Gandhi and Vadra will visit Lucknow on Monday for a roadshow. General secretaries Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia (in charge of UP west) will stay on for a few more days to take stock of the political situation on the ground.

Surjewala clarified that the final call on the number of seats to be contested in UP will be taken after the visit of Gandhi and the two general secretaries, but “if needed" the Congress was ready to contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Gandhi is going to hold another key meeting on Saturday with Congress chief ministers and chiefs of state legislative units to focus on state-specific strategies for the forth-coming Lok Sabha elections.


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