The Telegraph
Friday , February 28 , 2014
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Cong yatras ahead of poll bugle

New Delhi, Feb. 27: The Congress today announced padyatras (marches) in every Lok Sabha constituency in the next few days before the polls are notified, spurred by a Sonia Gandhi call to reach out to the people.

Sonia’s suggestion came at a campaign committee meeting where she stressed the need for mass contact and cautioned against being swayed by what she termed negative propaganda and artificial hype of rivals.

Rahul Gandhi did not speak at the meeting but other leaders advocated an aggressive campaign and strong rebuttal of Narendra Modi’s tirades.

Janardan Dwivedi, the Congress general secretary in charge of the organisation, has written state unit chiefs to hold the padyatras before the election schedule is announced and the campaign officially kicks off.

It is not clear whether Rahul, who is already touring different states and has a tight schedule, will be part of the padyatras, which are a time-consuming exercise.

All villages with a population of over 2,000, local markets, weekly bazaars and towns will be covered during the seven-day drive, leaders said.

The aim is to establish direct contact with people and reach out to specific groups such as panchayats, market bodies, unions and homes.

Party leaders and workers will cover a distance of 10 to 15km daily, handing out pamphlets highlighting the achievements of the Congress-led UPA government.

Key community and caste leaders will be included in the marches. Central leaders have been asked to join too. Rallies addressed by senior leaders will be held in every state.