2 min read.Updated: 24 Aug 2019, 11:55 AM ISTAnuja
Sonia Gandhi has started preparing for the upcoming assembly elections in three states
The group is crucial for the Congress to win back
Days after taking charge of Congress party, Sonia Gandhi has started preparing for the upcoming assembly elections in three states - Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is incumbent in all the three states and will take on the Congress as its key opposition in the polls.
The first step to prepare for elections was taken on Friday when Gandhi held a meeting with senior leaders of party’s Scheduled Castes (SC) department and where she discussed upcoming state elections and and asked them to ensure that the vote share of Congress rises considerably, especially among scheduled caste (SC) voters.
The strategy is interesting because all the three states have considerable populations of SCs and the Congress is trying to win back the voters who have either shifted their allegiance to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent past or preferred regional parties over it.
“After Sonia Gandhi returned to the top post, this was her first meeting with us…Her larger message to us was about inputting to the party to ensure that credible candidates are chosen for reserved seats. There was also a discussion about how to increase Congress’ vote share among SC voters," a senior party functionary who attended the meeting said requesting anonymity.
The group is crucial for the Congress to win back because in all the three states put together, there are 55 assembly constituencies which are reserved for SCs and all the three states have over 10% population of SCs.
“As the SC department, we will give suggestions to the screening committees and state leadership about best suited candidates in reserved seats of the poll bound states. We also realize that our messaging has not been right so we are going to work on that and zero down on what are the related issues to raise focus in our state-specific campaigns," the leader quoted above added.
The strategy adopted by Congress under the leadership of Gandhi is also significant because the BJP leadership had also adopted similar techniques to expand its voter and electoral base in these states. The BJP had focussed on the financially and socially marginalised sections through its programmes on providing subsidised cooking gas, electricity for all, hosing for all, health facilities under Ayushman Bharat.
Another Congress leader who attended the meeting with Gandhi on Friday said that the SC department will ensure deploying more party workers and volunteers in SC reserved seats to build an effective campaign. “SC population is the most harassed under this government as opposed to Congress led governments which had worked for their upliftment. We will go to them with this message," the second leader added.