Rahul Gandhi kicks off Gujarat poll campaign

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi kicks off his Gujarat Assembly election campaign here on Monday with a direct dialogue with party activists from across all the 182 constituencies, in keeping with the party’s focus on strengthening and revving up the organization.

Gandhi, who is also scheduled to make two four-day visits later this month across the length and breadth of the state, is to meet the Congress rank and file at the Sabarmati Riverfront here.

He is then expected to hold interactions with representatives of civil society organizations, industrialists and businessmen and traders before flying off to Delhi in the evening.

According to Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki, “Rahul will interact directly with workers from all 182 assembly constituencies. He will also hold meetings with NGO representatives, industrialists and other businessmen on Monday and take feedback from them.”

“He is expected to speak about his expectations from the Gujarat unit and give advice on the party’s strategy for the elections,” Solanki added.

In view of the recent setback to the party during the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections when as many as 14 legislators quit the Congress and eight of them voted for the BJP against the official nominee Ahmed Patel, the opposition party is trying to ensure its flock remains together.

As part of this exercise, as many as 122 new office-bearers were recently inducted, including four working presidents, despite an existing full-time state chief, besides formation of committees on election, candidate selection, campaign and manifesto, accommodating functionaries from all regions.

Simultaneously, the party issued sack orders to eight legislators who cross-voted for the BJP during the Rajya Sabha elections and also initiated similar action against six others on the contention that they resigned and joined the rival party while the whip to vote for the official nominee was already out.

With the argument that they had defied the official whip and could invite disqualification from contesting any election for another six years, the party is planning a legal recourse to ensure they are barred and the rival BJP is unable to field them in the elections.

Rahul Gandhi will be in Gujarat again for four days from September 22 during which he will extensively tour the Saurashtra region in the west and the flood-affected North Gujarat districts.

The Congress vice-president will be on another four-day tour of central and south Gujarat regions later but the dates are still being finalised.

Former state party chief Arjun Modhwadia said for the first time Rahul Gandhi would cover a staggering 4,000 square km across the state to rejuvenate the party cadres.

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