Sonias campaign strategy: target NDA, avoid Lalu-Paswan issue

New Delhi, Jan 26 | Updated: Jan 27 2005, 05:30am hrs
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will begin her election campaign from Haryana on Friday, and end it with Jharkhand on January 31. While her campaign will in all likelihood highlight her partys positive agenda and recount the achievements of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government since it came to power in the Centre eight months ago, she is expected to maintain a suitable distance from the Lalu-Paswan issue.

However, the communal agenda of the BJP and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regimes shortcomings will form part of her speeches in the election rallies, party sources told FE.

She will inform the electorate about the hidden agenda of NDA constituents and raise issues relating to Bihar/Jharkhand development and measures to be adopted to improve the common mans lot after Congress and its constituents come to power, the sources said.

Soniaji will start her election tour from Haryana and will stay in the state till January 29, party managers said.

This will be followed by a whirlwind tour of Bihar and Jharkhand. Her first campaign stint for Jharkhand is slated to begin on January 31.

The party will contest on 80 seats in Bihar and 34 in Jharkhand. Of the 243-seat Bihar Assembly, Congress is supporting candidates from Lalu Prasads RJD, Ram Vilas Paswans LJP and the Left parties.

Of the 81 seats for Jharkhand Assembly, Congress has tie-ups with Sibu Sorens Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) with RJD, LJP and the Left parties fighting separately.

However, both in Bihar and Jharkhand, the picture is not yet clear as Congress and its constituents have not been able to strike satisfactory deals and they are pitted against one another in several places.

According to strategists, Ms Gandhi, as UPA chairperson, will have to face very complex election equations in Bihar and Jharkhand. They maintain that the Congress president and state leadership should emphasise on the Positive Agenda of the party during the election compaign.

According to them, the party should place issues registered in its manifesto in an aggressive manner, while maintaining equidistance from both RJD and LJP.