M A I N   N E W S

Be on your toes, Sonia tells Haryana candidates
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19
In an effort to quell factionalism, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today took the unusual and unprecedented step of meeting the candidates contesting next month’s Haryana Assembly elections.

Candidates, who thronged her 10 Janpath residence, met her individually with all of them assuring Mrs Gandhi of a clear victory for the Congress in the coming elections. At the same time, there were stray voices of unhappiness as some candidates drew her attention to the perennial problem of groupism and rebellion in their respective constituencies. Except for PCC Working President Randeep Surjewala and Deputy CLP leader Ajay Singh Yadav, all other candidates turned up for what was described by them as a “thanksgiving”.

Haryana PCC chief Bhajan Lal is learnt to have assured the Congress President that the rebellion in the party would be contained and most rebels, who had filed their nominations against official candidates, would withdraw from the race.

Mrs Gandhi, on her part, is learnt to have exhorted the candidates to fight unitedly and also warned them against becoming overconfident. “Be positive,” she told the candidates, remarking that though everybody had told her the Congress was “winning hands down”, the candidates must be on their toes and should not become complacent.

Irrespective of the official explanations, the basic purpose of this meeting was to emphasise upon the state leaders to sink their differences and put up a united face in this election. It became imperative for Mrs Gandhi to step in since the Haryana Congress tops the list of faction-ridden state units. The party is also faced with a huge problem of rebellion as ticket aspirants and leaders whose nominees have been ignored, are all sulking and even threatening to contest as Independents.

Above all, it was an occasion to establish Mrs Gandhi’s supremacy, effectively placing all state leaders on an equal footing. A senior AICC office-bearer remarked pointedly that state leaders Bhajan Lal and Varinder Singh got no special treatment.

Since it is the first of its kind, AICC leaders were quick to clarify that this meeting is only a “one-off” and will not become a precedent for other states or subsequent elections.

Mr Janardan Dwivedi, AICC General Secretary in charge of Haryana, however, maintained the meeting was organised essentially to enable the candidates and Mrs Gandhi to get acquainted with each other.

He explained that unlike the state leaders, who meet the Congress president in the course of discussions on ticket distribution, the candidates do not get a similar opportunity.

While here, they will also be able to collect all the publicity material, Mr Dwivedi said, which will save them an extra trip.


Different campaigns, different posters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19
The Congress election campaign in the three election-bound states of Haryana, Bihar and Jharkhand has necessarily to reflect the different situations prevailing here.

If the election poster planned for Haryana promises “prosperity and dignity” to the citizens, the party’s campaign in Bihar mirrors the handicap it faces in not being able to attack the RJD government. The election poster, therefore, focuses on the safe subject of social harmony.

Chuniye unko jo samaj ko jodte hain, todte nahin. Haath ka saath dijiye, Congress ko vote dijiye,” reads the Congress election poster for Bihar. The campaign line for Haryana exhorts people to vote for the Congress with the line, “Aam aadmi ke samman aur khushali ke liye, bhrastachar aur bhay se mukti ke liye, Haath ka saath dijiye, Congress ko vote dijiye.” In Jharkhand, the Congress poster seeks votes on the promise of a clean government, “Jharkhand ko chahiye kannon ka raj aur saaf sutra shasan.”

Although the party is bringing out a separate poster for each state, there is one common poster for all the three states. Focussing on providing a better life to the people, it reads, “Sabki bhalaiye aur bheter zindagi ke liye, Haath ka saath dijiye, Congress ko vote dijiye.”

Predictably, photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi will adorn all the posters as she is the party’s star campaigner.Back

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