A buoyant Congress is set to make ‘happiness index’ its poll plank to garner support in poll- bound Gujarat as a counter to BJP’s agenda of development and growth in the state. The Congress, which seems to have been energised after the recent victory of Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election, also aims to put its weight behind booth-level workers and plans to deploy four dedicated party workers at each booth of 100 votes and 25 of them at 1,000-vote booths.
The party is also banking upon its vice president Rahul Gandhi to give a boost to its campaign by attending a workers’ meeting in Ahmedabad on September 4. “We will make this election as ‘happiness index’ versus the development touted by the BJP. This election will be fought not on development but on ‘happiness index,” Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki told PTI. He said the party is carrying out surveys to select its candidates and will try and evolve a consensus among various contenders to stop infighting.
Solanki hoped that the state’s screening committee would be announced soon, starting the process of selecting candidates.
Asked when the campaign would be launched formally, he said, “It is already on. It will be given a formal shape in the coming times. We are holding various programmes, which include the honouring of MLAs in Surat on August 29 and a Kisan Satyagrah on September 1 in Valsad.”
On deployment of various agencies for poll work, he said the Congress will not depend on any poll experts for its political decisions which will be taken by the party leadership while other poll-related work can be outsourced to outside agencies.
Solanki also said that the party’s political activity has already begun with its campaign, booth management and social media campaign at micro-level. “The vote gap between the BJP and the Congress in the 2012 assembly elections was only 7 per cent,” he said and the party is using all its might to bridge this gap this time around.
The gap, however, increased in the last Lok Sabha elections. “There is tremendous anti-incumbency against the ruling BJP and people are supporting us. This has been seen in the recent Zila Parishad and other municipal polls,” Solanki said.
According to him, the major challenge the party faces is from the “BJP’s use of money and muscle power, besides misuse of administrative machinery”, alleging that the ruling party is flush with resources and will try and woo the public with it.
Assembly elections in Gujarat are due later this year and could be held in November or December. The tenure of the 182- member current Gujarat assembly ends on January 22, 2018 and elections have to be held before that.