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Congress begins poll preparations on war footing

February 07, 2009 03:59 IST

The Congress has kicked off its preparations for the coming Lok Sabha elections on a war footing. A new war room has been set up, another premises has been occupied to mastermind the party's electoral campaign strategy, three constituency-wise surveys have been completed to get a professional and scientific feedback from the grass roots.

Party observers have fanned out all over the country to get political feedback, the advertising and publicity campaign has been put in place with banners, hoardings and posters already out all over the country.

The district and block level leaders have been called to the capital to take back the message of the party and to top it all Congress president Sonia Gandhi has delivered a resounding and heartfelt endorsement of the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh saying "we look forward to his continued leadership and his inspiration to the younger generation particularly".

The fulsome praise of the prime ,inister in the party's Sandesh magazine is being read in party circles as Sonia Gandhi's projection of Dr Singh as the next prime minister should the United Progressive Alliance come back to power. She writes in her editorial, "He has led the UPA government with great distinction. He has many more years of service both to our country and to our party".

Earlier there were adjectives describing the PM as a man of humility, sagacity, wisdom, simplicity, sobriety, dignity and his quiet but firm resolve. It doesn't look as though any adjective has been left out as the Congress president loudly signals that he continues to be her man for the top job.

But in characteristic Congress style, this is not being reflected in the party's campaign and publicity material. The party has chosen to put out big photographs of Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as the three key leaders of the party portraying a party focused on collective leadership.

A high tech war room is currently in the process of being set up at 15 Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, which was recently occupied by Ashok Gehlot before he left for Jaipur as the chief minister. The bungalow has been taken over by the Congress and is being refurbished. Huge television screens would be set up, computers and other equipment to monitor the media coverage during the elections are being set up.

Apart from that the office of the National Advisory Council at 2 Motilal Nehru Place has also been taken over by the party for its election campaign strategy and preparation meetings. When the NAC wound up, the bungalow was alloted to Murli Deora who gave it to the party for its meetings. Deora's own residence at Lodhi Estate has now been realloted to him in the name of his son Milind Deora who is the MP from South Mumbai.

At various times the residences of Suresh Pachauri and Union minister V Narayanswamy have been used as war rooms by the core team which runs the elections, but sources say that Rahul Gandhi was insistent that the party should have infrastructure and high technology backing and elections should be fought with the same scientific and professional precision as generals who plan a war.

This has ensured that for the first time the party's elections meetings began much earlier than in other elections. The central election committee which selects the party's candidates would begin to meet from next week as some lists would be announced, mainly of sitting MPs and other senior leaders who are keen to contest the elections and those who are non-controversial.

The Congress is all set to kick off its election campaign on Sunday from Ram Lila grounds when over 12,000 party workers and leaders would take oath in what is being called Sankalp 2009 to work unitedly for the victory of the party and to fight till their last breath against the communal forces which seek to divide the country.

The assembled Congress workers would be given a crash course on the performance of the UPA government in the last five years, which is the plank on which the Congress would seek a mandate for another five-year term.

In the backdrop of global recession, financial layoffs and myriad problems facing the economy and the social sector, the Congress would be asking for a vote on the performance of a bouyant economy, in the hands of a captain who has steered the ship through the rough and tumble of the global meltdown and a coherent leadership which has brought in a large number of social sector schemes for the aam admi (common man) .

A part of this would be spelled out in Pranab Mukherjee's budget and the rest in the opening speech of the Congress president on Sunday as the party seeks to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance with the battle for the ballot now underway.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi