2019 Lok Sabha elections: Congress sounds poll bugle, begins search for candidates

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New Delhi | Updated: January 2, 2019 11:33:30 AM

With loan waivers, Ayodhya temple and jobs as the hot words in the days leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a resurgent Congress has initiated the consultation process with local party leaders along with its workers to shortlist possible candidates across different states.

Source: Twitter/@INCIndia

Buoyed by its recent success in dethroning the Bharatiya Janata Party from three Hindi heartland states, the Congress has begun preparations for the all important Lok Sabha elections in 2019 to dislodge Narendra Modi and return to power at the Centre. With loan waivers, Ayodhya temple and jobs the hot words in the days leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a resurgent Congress has initiated the consultation process with local party leaders along with its workers to shortlist possible candidates across different states.

Beginning the year on a positive note, Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda on Monday held talks with local party leaders of Saurashtra and Kutch which collectively account for seven Lok Sabha seats —Rajkot, Porbandar, Junagadh Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Kutch.

In Gujarat Assembly elections 2017, Congress performed well, winning 77 out of the 182 Assembly seats and now the party has set its focus on winning a good number of seats in the Lok Sabha elections, which are due in a few months. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress had lost all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat to the ruling BJP.

The Monday meeting saw Chavda meeting all the Congress candidates who had lost their seats in the Lok Sabha elections from Saurashtra and Kutch. After concluding the discussions about Saurashtra region, the consultation will be held for the north Gujarat districts followed by south and central Gujarat regions, party spokesperson Manish Doshi was quoted as saying.

Congress and its ‘Shakti’

Learning from its previous mistakes, the party is also making ample use of an internal app-based feedback system called Shakti in the selection of candidates. The app lets the party workers give their opinion on the chances of a candidate winning from a particular constituency.

However, it is not the only factor in shortlisting a candidate and workers with 1,000 points are eligible to give feedback, two Congress functionaries were quoted as saying by The Hindu.

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This comes after the positive results the Congress saw in its recent victories in crucial states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the app Shakti was said to have been used for live data on voting behaviour in individual booths and feedback on weak spots.

The party leadership made full use of real-time data and information about 15,000-odd booths each in M.P. and Rajasthan, and from 10,000 booths in Chhattisgarh each day leading to the Assembly elections, said the report.

The data in the Shakti app is monitored by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi himself after he upgraded the digital department of the party into the data analytics wing.

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