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Lok Sabha polls 2024: The battleground seats where Congress is doubling efforts

Party insiders said that the Congress’s internal surveys noted that in the identified seats, the party has found it had an edge over its rivals – the BJP in some cases and regional parties in the others.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:38 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:38 IST

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New Delhi: As it stares at an uphill task of facing the BJP’s electoral juggernaut, the Congress has honed in on 77 Lok Sabha seats where it has doubled down on its efforts and believes that it has an edge, sources in the party said. This is an addition to 50 seats where the party is confident of sailing through.

Party insiders said that the Congress’s internal surveys noted that in the identified seats, the party has found it had an edge over its rivals – the BJP in some cases and regional parties in the others. And so, in these 77 seats, the party is pushing through with intensified efforts, setting aside better resources, holding more rallies and engaging dedicated workers.

Sources said that there were three basic criteria for identifying these seats – the first was surveys and feedback from workers which showed a favourable outcome for the party. The second was the winnability of the respective candidates; another factor was if the candidate was bringing their own resources, with the party staring at a fund crisis. The third, party leaders said, was the demographics of the seats – some of those selected had a concentration of minority and backward classes with a resonance for Congress.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal said the Congress is taking every seat it is contesting seriously while exuding confidence that the party will have a better show in a direct contest against the BJP. “We are confident. Our campaign is going strong. We are doing everything possible to ensure that the Modi government is defeated,” Venugopal told DH. Congress has so far announced 278 candidates.

These seats include 15 in Karnataka, 7-8 in Rajasthan, 4 each in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, 3 each in Haryana, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, as well as 2 seats each in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In most of the seats, the Congress is staring at a contest against the BJP, but in some seats, the fight is with regional parties – against the Left in Kerala, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi in some and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in a few.

Sources said that the party has set aside better resources to be spent on these seats. More rallies by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as well as its star campaigners have been planned. The party has also engaged Parliament coordinators in each of these seats. Dedicated call centres with more than 1,000 callers have been set up to call voters in these seats, said sources.

The Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP in around 150 seats in states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Assam where its alliance partners’ strength is either nil or negligible.

However across India, Congress sources said they were giving a strong fight to the BJP in at least 155 seats apart from those of their stronghold states and constituencies. They said the question and task before them is to maximise returns from these 155 seats.

An analysis showed that BJP has lost around 80 seats where its margin was less than 10 per cent while in an equal number of seats, it won by a margin of 10-20 per cent votes. Sources said Congress will be particularly looking at these seats, especially the around 80 seats where the victory margin was closer.

Sources said the Congress looks at gains from states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Assam and Odisha besides Telangana, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh where the party is in power.

Congress won just 11 seats from nine north Indian states from where BJP had won 149.

The BJP had won 28 out of 29 in Madhya Pradesh, all 26 seats in Gujarat, 24 out of 25 in Rajasthan, 25 out of 27 in Karnataka, all 4 in Himachal Pradesh, 11 out of 13 in Jharkhand, all 10 in Haryana and all 7 in Delhi. Congress now expects to reduce BJP’s numbers in Bihar and Maharashtra.

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Published 16 April 2024, 01:38 IST

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