CBI-Rafale link set to feature in Cong poll campaign

CBI-Rafale link set to feature in Cong poll campaign

Congress president Rahul Gandhi holds a cutout of a fighter aircraft during a protest demanding the reinstatement of CBI Director Alok Verma outside the CBI headquarters, in New Delhi, on Friday. PTI

Congress leaders believe that the CBI row could bring it a windfall gain ahead of the Assembly elections to five states and has decided to step up campaign issue by linking it to the Rafale deal.

In a display of some quick-thinking, Congress leaders organised street protests from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu against the Modi government's decision to send CBI director Alok Verma on leave and the issue is expected to figure prominently in the poll campaign in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh.

According to an assessment by a Congress strategist, the message of the party against the policies of the Modi government was permeating through the rural hinterland where the people have started to take the prime minister's utterances with a tinge of scepticism.

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“The campaign over Rafale is fast catching up with nearly 75% of those surveyed in rural areas linking it to a scam,” a senior Congress functionary told DH.

This was one reason why the Congress linked the removal of the CBI director to the “imminent” probe by the agency in the Rafale aircraft deal and launched sharp attacks on the prime minister.

“Whenever there is a reference to Rafale, people link it to the offset contract with Anil Ambani's company and the Rs 30,000 crore figure put out by us,” the Congress functionary said.

Congress leaders believe a well-attended rally by the prime minister, who is known for is oratorical skills, can no longer wipe off the gains made by them in winning over the electorate.

“People in rural parts of the country, particularly the middle class have started questioning Modi's actions. They no longer take the prime minister at face value,” a senior Congress leader said.

“The idea that one Modi rally can change political equations in BJP's favour no longer holds true,” the leader said adding that the Congress still has a long way to go to attract urban voters.

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