Congress's show of strength in Modi's home turf

Preparations underway at Gandhi Ashram on the eve of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Manmohan Singh's visit, in Ahmedabad, on Monday. PTI

In a never seen before "mass movement" of Congress leaders in Gujarat in nearly six decades, party's top leaders are all set to descend here to kick-start its campaign for the Lok Sabha polls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and recently appointed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, along with most of the senior leaders are arriving in the city to participate in the day-long Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet. CWC is the highest decision-making body of the party.

The date of CWC also coincides with Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March in 1930, which he took out from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi against the Britishers. State Congress leaders said that at CWC meet "discussion will range on the strategy for contesting the Lok Sabha polls."

State Congress chief Amit Chavda said, "at the meet people-oriented schemes, policies and other related issues will be discussed. Failure of the Modi government like terrorism, farm loan waiver, unemployment among others will also be discussed and highlighted."

He added that this is the first time in 58 years that CWC meet is being held in Gujarat.

Congress leaders said this is also the first time that Rahul, Sonia and Priyanka will together share the stage and would address the rally. After the CWC meet "Jan Sankalp" rally will be held which is likely to be addressed by Priyanka.

Earlier, the Congress had planned the meet on February 28 but following Pulwama terror attack and subsequent tensions, it was cancelled and rescheduled.

Top leaders like P Chidambaram, Mallikarjun Kharge, Oommen Chandy, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Anand Sharma, Tarun Gogoi, Harish Rawat, Kumari Shailaja, Randeep Surjewala, Sheila Dikshit among others, are expected to attend the meet.

Sources said that most of the leaders will stay put at Taj Ummed hotel near Ahmedabad airport and some will be accommodated state guesthouses.

Chavda also said during the meet, Patidar leader Hardik Patel will join the Congress officially. He said that Hardik's leadership will help the party.

Another MLA joins BJP

Meanwhile, another Congress MLA from Jamnagar, rural, Vallabh Dharaviya resigned from Congress and joined the BJP on Monday. He is the third Congress MLA to have defected to BJP in the past three days.

Two others were Parsottam Sabariya and Jawahar Chavda. A day after his resignation, Chavda was inducted as a cabinet minister in the Vijay Rupani government. While last month, another MLA Asha Patel from Unjha in north Gujarat, had resigned and joined the BJP.

State Congress leaders claimed that "fearing defeat" the BJP is trying to lure its MLAs. "Look what happened in 2017 during the Rajya Sabha polls. At least 17 MLAs (of Congress) defected who were later given BJP tickets for Assembly polls and 15 of them lost," said Rajiv Satav, in-charge of Gujarat Congress.

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Congress's show of strength in Modi's home turf

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