The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress disowns poll surveys

New Delhi, Sept. 18: Faced with the adverse findings of a pre-poll survey conducted in Madhya Pradesh after the monsoon, the Congress leadership has denied commissioning such studies.

Party general secretary in charge of the state Ambika Soni said poll preparations were, instead, going ahead full steam with the state unit having already finalised its draft manifesto. The performance of the Digvijay Singh government is its central theme, she said.

Asked whether performance could be a winning formula in view of the bleak survey, Soni said: “We (the leadership) have not commissioned any survey.” But informed authorities in the party in private confirmed otherwise.

The post-monsoon surveys had predicted victory for the Congress in Delhi and Rajasthan and defeat in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Sources, however, had cited the 1998 polls as an instance of Digvijay’s ability to turn the tide.

Soni strongly suggested that the surveys could be “fake”, a handiwork of the BJP’s “misinformation” campaign. She said she had the rival party’s internal documents, which were circulated as guidelines to conduct poll campaigns against the Congress, including circulation of fake surveys.

Soni predicted a sweep of all five states going to polls later this year. “Our feedback from our party workers is that we are going to win in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram,” she said.

Soni, also in-charge of Congress affairs in Rajasthan, said the draft manifesto for the desert state, too, was in the final stages. The party high command, she said, will soon set up campaign committees for both states.

Indications are the party might readjust its campaign strategies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in view of the negative findings of the pre-poll surveys.

There might be greater emphasis on projecting party unity and collective leadership through joint campaigning by top state leaders.

Party president Sonia Gandhi is also expected to repeat the Rajasthan strategy by embarking on an intensive campaign in the two states. Sonia is scheduled to make forays into Madhya Pradesh’s western districts towards the end of this month on a two-day roadshow.

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