After spending two weeks in the US, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi kicked-off a three-day campaign in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region. The main aim of the campaign is to propel the party’s campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
According to a report by IANS, the local authorities declined permission to hold the road show in an open jeep in this historical town, but that did not deter him from choosing to ride a traditional bullock cart in a village and interacting with farmers in this OBC-dominated Dwarka district.
Began the three day Navsarjan Yatra in Gujarat with darshan at Dwarkadhish Temple pic.twitter.com/PkFz0s3Z7v
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) September 25, 2017
Mr. Gandhi will have brief halts for interactions and meetings with farmers, fishermen, and party workers around a dozen places during the day, covering two districts, Devbhumi Dwarka and Jamnagar, with seven assembly segments. In Dwarka, he will be given a traditional welcome by women dressed in local traditional attire of Ahir and Rabari pastoral communities.
— Congress (@INCIndia) September 25, 2017
The road show, which will now feature a traditional bullock cart, will begin at the Dwarkadheesh Krishna temple, from where Rahul is expected to drive down to Jamnagar, interacting with locals at various educational institutions, women and businessmen. Gandhi will also briefly halt at a dozen places through the journey that covers two districts — Devbhumi Dwarka and Jamnagar — to interact with party workers.
This tour of the Saurashtra region — which sends one-third of the legislators in the 182-member state Assembly — comes weeks after his trip to Gujarat where interacted with thousands of party workers at Ahmedabad Sabarmati riverfront. The region has not been electorally rewarding to the party, as the 2012 Assembly elections yielded only 12 of the 52 seats.
Several villages, like Hanjrapar near Dwarka, which fall in the path of Rahul’s road show have undertaken preparations to welcome the Congress leader. “Not only his welcome, but we have also made arrangements for everyone in typical Saurashtra style,” Congress leader Palbhai Ambaliya told IANS.
After a night’s halt at Jamnagar, Rahul will drive down to Rajkot on Tuesday, which happens to be the hometown of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, and a significant political centre of the Saurashtra region. Here, Gandhi is scheduled to offer prayers at the Khodaldham Temple, the deity of Patidar community.
On Wednesday, the Congress leader will reach Surendranagar, where he is expected to climb the long-winding stone stairs to the popular hill-top Chotila Temple.
After three successive and significant defeats in Gujarat in 2003, 2007 and 2012, the Congress is aiming to reverse course — a task made a tad easier in light of the fact that Narendra Modi no longer stands as a chief ministerial candidate for the BJP.
Congress’ chances in the state first seem to have strengthened after Ahmed Patel’s election to a Rajya Sabha seat in August, a high-stakes contest seen by many as a battle for prestige between the BJP and Congress.
Since then, the party has conducted multiple events to advance its Gujarat campaign.
After covering Saurashtra, Gandhi will campaign in north, central and south Gujarat at later dates as part of the party’s poll campaign ahead of the Assembly elections slated to be held later in 2017, party sources said.