The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia lines up blitzkrieg

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Sonia Gandhi will address 16 public meetings in Gujarat to boost her party’s election campaign.

In between a busy Parliament session, the Congress chief will be in Gujarat on December 2, 5 7 and 9. She has short-listed Rajkot, Jamnagar, Vadodara, Kutch, Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Sabarkanta, Dahod, Balsad, Panchmahal and Dangs, keeping in mind the regional and caste-balance in the state. She is, however, likely to avoid Godhra.

Leaders handling Gujarat said though there were demands that Sonia hold rallies in all 182 Assembly segments, she has chosen areas where the party needs an “extra push”. Some candidates wanted Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi to campaign, but they have so far shown no interest.

The Congress has also begun looking for a suitable nominee to take on chief minister Narendra Modi, who has decided to contest from Maninagar in Ahmedabad. The Congress is toying with the idea of fielding Yatin Oja, a former BJP MLA who has recently switched camps. Two others, Vidyut Desai and Himmat Bahn Patel, have shown interest in standing against Modi.

The Congress think-tank tonight met at the residence of Pranab Mukherjee, head of the AICC screening committee for the polls, to discuss candidates for the remaining seats. The party has already announced nominees to 108 seats and has decided to leave two for the Left and one for the Lok Janshakti Party.

A section of the party is keen to field Ulhas Patel, a close relative of Sardar Patel, from Anand. But Ulhas does not have the backing of any state leaders.

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