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Despite divisions, Congress launches public outreach to revive itself in Haryana

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 25 June 2018, 19:49 IST
(Arya Sharma)

Aiming for a comeback in both the forthcoming Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls in Haryana, the Congress leadership's present strategy is concentrated on public outreach drives. The party that stands divided in factions continues to launch one outreach drive after the other. It is not only the factions that are out to contact the masses but the frontal organisations as well.

The strategy is keeping the party profile propped up in the rural hinterland as a counter to the ongoing 'Jail Bharo Andolan' of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) on the emotive issue of Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal and the roadshows of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who is going around showering sops and playing up the achievements of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by him.

The latest outreach campaign has been announced by Keshav Chand Yadav, the president of the All India Youth Congress. He announced that the Youth Congress would undertake a Padyatra or a Cycle Yatra in September this year to highlight the failures of both the Khattar government in the state and the Narendra Modi led government at the centre.

Yadav said, “The Modi Government at the centre and the Khattar government in Haryana have made the life of people hell. The misrule of the BJP governments has encouraged casteism, communalism, unemployment, price rise and corruption. The people are suffering from maladministration and have made up their minds to throw out these governments.” He claimed the Khattar government is copying Modi's strategy of covering up failures by making tall promises.

Yadav's announcement of a Yatra in September followed a 'Congress Ghar Ghar' outreach drive started
by the Congress party on the occasion of the party president Rahul Gandhi's birthday last week. The party's Haryana chief Dr. Ashok Tanwar said that during this campaign, Congress workers will apprise the people that during the four year misrule of 'Jhooth Chander Modi' and 'Ghoshna Lal Khattar', casteism, communalism, unemployment, price rise and corruption have become rampant. “This will be a 'Poll Khol' drive of the BJP government where the main focus will be to expose the failures and anti-people policies of the Khattar Government to the people of Haryana. The Congress workers will also do their utmost to strengthen communal harmony and social fabric and fraternity during this campaign,” Tanwar said.

Tanwar has been carrying out a Cycle Yatra in the state to contact the villagers in Haryana's heartland. He announced that the next phase of his 'Haryana Bachao-Parivartan Lao' yatra will be undertaken from July 19 to 22 from Kiloi-Sampla and conclude at Kalanaur. During the yatra two rallies will be organised at Sampla and Kalanaur in Rohtak district. Garhi-Sampla which is the birth place of Deen Bandhu Sir Chhotu Ram along with Baniyani which is Khattar's village will be covered under this phase of the drive.

Tanwar will be laying particular emphasis on the mismanagement of water resources by the government. He has been complaining that the Khattar government is allowing more water to neighbouring Rajasthan where polls are due a few months down the line. “We do not oppose giving water to a needy state but the same cannot be done with a political motive and that too by keeping your own state parched,” he said. Khattar government has already been in the line of fire for having recently shelved the Dadupur Nalvi canal project.

Tanwar has also been claiming that the BJP had promised to supply uninterrupted power supply in the run up to the last polls, but the fact is that in the rural areas people are getting electricity only for 2-4 hours.

Tanwar has been countering the BJP's publicity blitz both on the ground and also on the social media. He had recently joined issue with Modi on the fitness challenge by throwing a challenge to Modi and Khattar and his cabinet colleagues to cycle for a day in Haryana. He said, “By cycling for a day in Haryana you will see your promise of 'Achhe Din' in the state.”

On the other hand former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been continuing with his own public outreach campaigns. After the demonetisation fiasco of the Modi government and shoddy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) he began with kisan panchayats that were followed by Dalit panchayats and vyapaari sammelans. It was in February this year that he launched the his 'Jan Kranti Yatra' which he intends to continue right till the polls.

He has been trying to portray the Khattar and Modi governments as 'Event management governments' and has been highlighting the economic down slide both at the national and state levels in his interaction with the people. He has been hitting out at the government for interfering in the functioning of autonomous institution.

For now the Congress is moving ahead as a divided force with various factions carrying out their own drives. Both Hooda and Tanwar have been avoiding each other and are yet to come on a common platform. But sooner or later the party will have to come under a unified command if it wants to make electoral gains and this divided house is also becoming a challenge for Rahul Gandhi. The sooner he overcomes this, the better.

First published: 25 June 2018, 19:49 IST