After announcing former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit as the Uttar Pradesh chief ministerial candidate and actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar as the state party chief, the Congress is now all set to officially kick-off its political campaign in the poll-bound state.
The party has planned a 'rath yatra' from Delhi to Kanpur on 23 July. According to party sources, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will flag off the three-day bus yatra, which bears the theme: '27 saal, UP behaal' (UP has been a mess for 27 years).
Senior Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Raj Babbar Sheila Dikshit and Sanjay Singh will address the public during the bus yatra.
A source close to Congress' poll strategist Prashant Kishor's team told Catch that after starting the yatra from Delhi, the leaders will halt at Ghaziabad, Hapur and Amroha to interact with party workers and the public.
The leaders will be accompanied by Congress party workers who will be travelling in a convoy of at least 100 cars. On Day 1, the leaders will halt at Moradabad for the night where they will also preside over an 'aam sabha' (public meeting).
On Day 2, the bus will halt at Rampur and Bareilly, where meetings have been scheduled, before heading to Shahjahanpur for the night, where another public meeting has been scheduled.
On the last day of the yatra, the leaders will cover Hardoi and Kannauj before the yatra culminates in a grand road show in Kanpur.
'This is just the beginning'
Speaking to Catch on condition of anonymity, a member of Prashant Kishor's team said that the Congress had scheduled a second phase of the yatra - during which the bus will travel to at least 26 districts of the state.
"We have officially started the campaign, this is just the beginning and soon the leaders will schedule the second phase of the yatra," he said.
Rahul to hold meeting in Lucknow
According to sources, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will hold a meeting with party workers in Ramabai Ambedkar ground in Lucknow, where at least 40,000-50,000 party workers are expected to attend. He will interact with the party workers and take their suggestions about the party's strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls.
The party leaders have kept mum over Priyanka Gandhi's role in the yatra so far.
Road show in Varanasi
Party leaders have also planned a grand road show in PM Narendra Modi's constituency, Varanasi in August. Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, will interact with the public in Varanasi during the event.
According to party sources, Sheila Dikhsit will visit Unnao once the yatra ends. Dikshit, whose husband comes from an Unnao family, is expected to woo the voters there by playing the 'Brahmin card'. Uttar Pradesh has not had a Brahmin Chief Minister since Congress CM ND Tiwari was voted out of power in 1989.