India's Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi is all set to go in for a major image makeover. His month-long campaign in Uttar Pradesh on farmer’s debt intends to recraft his image from a 10 am to 6 pm politician into a full time 24x7 political actor.
Sources inside his campaign team confirmed to WION that Rahul Gandhi during the course of his campaign, will not return to Delhi even once. “The idea is to blunt BJP’s charge that Rahul Gandhi jumps from one issue to another. He will stick to one issue for an entire month and that being that the Centre should waive off farmer’s debt in Uttar Pradesh,” a source said.
In another first, Rahul Gandhi will himself be a part of a door-to-door campaign which is a first for any member of the Gandhi family after India's first woman PM, Indira Gandhi.
The Congress intends to target 20 million households in this door-to-door campaign for which 2,50,000 workers have been identified.
The identified workers would concentrate on 25,000 blocks selected by the Congress Party. Rahul Gandhi himself would cover 2,500 km.
The unique feature of the campaign would be that every targeted household will get a receipt from Congress after getting the pledge signed that if they come back to power then Congress would waive off farmer’s loans and half the electricity tariff for the agrarian sector. Rahul Gandhi will come back to Delhi once the targets have been met and the receipts collected.
The Congress vice-president will cover 55 Lok Sabha constituencies and 225 assembly segments in this phase. Rahul will clock 11 hours every day that he spends in Uttar Pradesh. His meetings would start at 10.30 am every day and would only end at 9.30 pm at night.
The Congress's campaign manager Prashant Kishore has also taken a leaf out of his old strategy. The missed-call campaign will be deployed for Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh. The number would be advertised and anyone who gives a missed call would get connected to a recorded message of Rahul Gandhi on the farmer’s issue.
Other parties, however, remain unimpressed. BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma says that the Congress is neither a force nor an alternative in UP.
“Mayawati is the only option to the Samajwadi Party,” adds BSP’s Sudhindra Bhaduria.
Even the Congress understands that it stands 4th in the race and even after the Bhatta Parsaul pad yatra and a campaign based around the farmers' issue in the UP assembly elections in 2012, the party came a miserable fourth. Even then Rahul Gandhi had invested a lot of time in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress disagrees. “Our support to loan-waiver issue remains despite our electoral reverses,” said Congress spokesperson RPN Singh.