Every election is a battle of ideologies and the upcoming Lok Sabha elections are no exception.
In a bid to counter Narendra Modi’s development-oriented campaign and erode the AAP’s support base, Congress vice-president and poll campaign chief Rahul Gandhi is taking inspiration from the party’s socialist past even as the grand old party battles its falling stock.
The Congress scion has now directed his party units to connect with the local NGOs, a section that has been largely ignored by the UPA. And Rahul is not only in the process of meeting members of the various NGOs and other social interest groups, but he is also demonstrating a verifiable link with high-level policy interventions.
Budget 2014, which was crafted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, amply illustrates the young Congress V-P’s neo-socialist vision of wooing the underprivileged and women to garner votes.
Mahila Congress chief from Gujarat,Shobha Oza has been told to liaise with the women’s groups of various hues and get the Congress into the centre of coordinating public action around gender debates. For this, the near dysfunctional NGO coordination committee of the party has been resurrected with the appointment of five nodal persons-- Indira Iyenger for Madhya Pradesh, Jija Hari Singh for Karnataka, Sonal Mehta for Gujarat, Anita Karnavar for Kerala and Bimla Saroha for Haryana.
Rahul has been interacting with the non-political interest groups regularly in the last few weeks. He recently met a body of ex-servicemen and promised them action on their long-standing demand for ‘one rank, one pension’. Sure enough, Chidambaram made the announcement agreeing to the demand in his interim budget. ‘One rank one pension’ would be “implemented prospectively” from 2014-15 and would cost the state exchequer Rs 500 crore in the current fiscal year. Through the NGOs, Rahul had also met the representatives of the street vendors and those working for their welfare and security. Last Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha passed the Street Vendors Bill.
On February 17, it was the turn of the physically challenged to meet the Congress vice-president. At a connect exercise held at Talkatora Stadium, hosted by Sports Minister and Rahul loyalist Jitendra Singh, the 42-year-old Congress scion met sportspersons from all disciplines, past and present.
The Mahila Congress, which had raised the Modi stalking issue dubbed the ‘snoopgate’, had also met President Pranab Mukherjee in the company of 26 women’s organisations, including the Left-affiliated ones. In his budget, Chidambaram upped the allocation for Minority Affairs by 12 per cent (Rs 3,511 crore). He also increased allocation for Scheduled Castes and tribals.