The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
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Congress gears up for Rahul visit on April 1

- Litmus test of turnout in Godda & Gumla

Ranchi, March 30: State Congress unit is earnestly preparing for poll rallies of party vice president Rahul Gandhi in Godda and Gumla on April 1.

Central leadership and Pradesh Congress functionaries are hoping to whip up excitement and footfall for Rahul’s visit as it comes close on the heels of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s successful rallies on March 27 in Gumla and Chatra despite the Maoist bandh.

The Congress is trying to strike a chord with poster messages such as “main nahin hum (Not me, but we)” and “Har haath ki shakti, har haath ki tarakki (Strength and progress in every hand)”.

Party general secretary in-charge B.K. Hariprasad, who will accompany Rahul, today returned to Delhi, after meetings with allies and colleagues on matters related to the visit.

In Godda, Rahul will canvass for Furqan Ansari and in Gumla for Lohardaga’s Rameshwar Oraon, both former MPs. Gumla, which falls under Lohardaga seat, will go to polls on April 10, while Godda will vote on April 24.

Ansari and Oraon are not just trapped in multi-cornered fights, they are also vulnerable to back-stabbing from allies.

In 2009, Ansari lost when the JMM decided on a “friendly fight” with Congress at the eleventh hour, splitting secular and tribal votes to ease a win for BJP’s Nishikant Dubey. This time, many JMM and Congress leaders in Santhal Pargana are angry over Congress-RJD-JMM pre-poll pacts.

Oraon lost when Chamra Linda entered the fray as an Independent, again splitting the non-BJP vote bank. BJP nominee Sudarshan Bhagat won the election. This time, Linda is contesting Lohardaga seat as a TMC man.

The Congress may remember that its 2009 campaign in Jharkhand by both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi yielded one seat. Congressman Subodh Kant Sahay scraped through Ranchi by a narrow margin.

“We are telling masses what the Congress did via central welfare and development schemes. As model code of conduct is in force, Rahul Gandhi can’t say a lot, but he is serious about bringing Gumla on the railway map and setting up a public sector aluminium plant on Gumla-Lohardaga border to fight unemployment and Naxalism,” said Congress state unit general secretary Alok Dubey.