New Delhi, Oct. 31: Faced with the formidable Hindutva plank in Gujarat, the Congress intends to focus on local issues to expose Narendra Modi’s “non-performance” in areas like water supply, power and the scandal involving cooperative banks.
“We will have constituency-wise strategy. Our feedback is that there is no single issue dominating in Gujarat. All those talking about Hindutva resurgence are in for a shock,” said Kamal Nath, the Congress general secretary in charge of Gujarat. He said in-house surveys and party observers’ reports have indicated that the Congress would bag over a hundred seats in the 182-member Assembly.
Nath said Modi should learn a lesson from Omar Abdullah’s defeat in Kashmir. “People want cash-and-delivery system instead of emotive issues. Modi must tell voters what the BJP regime has done in the last five years,” he said.
In the Congress’ assessment, the saffron campaign has peaked and is now losing bite. Moreover, the BJP seemed caught between Hindutva and caste equations. “If we are to believe that the Hindutva plank is all pervading, what’s the need to rope in Keshubhai Patel to fetch Patel votes' Is it not contradictory'” Nath asked.
He added that about 55 lakh voters have been affected by the scam in cooperative banks. “Various cooperative banks have suffered losses ranging from Rs 20 to 600 crore. These sections of society are angry and want to punish the government,” Nath said.
The Congress’ screening committee will meet on November 6 to shortlist nominees. There are more than 600 hopefuls vying for 182 seats. The party’s central election panel will meet on November 10 and 11 to finalise the candidates.
The Congress has put in place an elaborate system to select nominees. First, 28 ministers from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat were put in charge of as many districts. The ministers have submitted three reports, giving grades on a scale of 10 to aspirants in each assembly segment.
“We have tallied their reports with that of the state unit. Among other things, it was aimed at dismantling the quota system. We came to know of cases where some candidates ranked high in the observers’ report but did not figure on the PCC list. So we will be able to pick the best and brightest,” Nath said.
About striking alliances with the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party in Gujarat, Nath said: “We have to see the ground reality. The objective is to defeat the BJP. We have to see if these parties have the necessary apparatus and right candidates to fulfil that objective.” It was a clear indication that the Congress was in no mood to leave many seats for them.