Rahul set to launch Cong's Rajasthan campaign

Rahul set to launch Cong's Rajasthan campaign

Party plans to pull out all strings to improve its performance

Rahul set to launch Cong's Rajasthan campaign

Rahul Gandhi is set to launch the Congress’ campaign for the Rajasthan Assembly election from the tribal stronghold of Salumber in the Udaipur district, as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot makes efforts to retain power in the state.

The party would also seek to present a picture of unity as the entire leadership of the faction-ridden state Congress shares the stage with Gandhi when he rises to list the achievements of the UPA government.

The Congress is pulling all strings to improve its performance in Rajasthan, which has not formed a government  in the last 20 years. Gandhi’s rally in Salumber would be followed by another public meeting in Baran on September 17.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are also expected to address rallies in Barmer and Bhilwara before the election dates are announced. However, the rallies by the Congress chief would be organised if her health permits.
Putting up a show of unity, Gehlot and his bete noire, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary C P Joshi, have been camping in Salumber to ensure that Rahul Gandhi’s rally passes without any hitch.

The high-voltage campaign comes in the wake of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje completing her state-wide election tour, which culminated in a massive rally in Jaipur on Tuesday, which was also addressed by BJP’s poll mascot Narendra Modi.
However, Congress leaders are dismissive of Raje’s campaign, contending that she would not get the backing of voters as she was away from the state for 4.5 years, returning only during election time.

The leaders in AICC also claim that the posters during Raje’s state-wide tour never carried Modi’s pictures, but she had to lean on the Gujarat chief minister for support at the Jaipur rally. The Congress considers Udaipur its stronghold, as the party has won 22 of the 28 seats in this division.

A senior leader also pointed out that late prime ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi also began their election campaigns from tribal belts, and Rahul was merely following tradition.
The Congress had won 98 of the 200 seats in the election to the Rajasthan assembly in 2007, edging out the Raje-led government. The BJP had won 86 seats.  Gehlot formed the government with the support of independents and six BSP MLAs who joined the Congress. The party had won only 56 seats in 2003, when Raje had dislodged Gehlot, who had won a huge mandate (156 seats) in 1998.