NEW DELHI: Lessons learnt in Gujarat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi wants the Karnataka unit to rejig booth-level panels to make the party battle-ready ahead of the Assembly polls in March-April.
At present, Karnataka is the only big state with the Congress and Rahul wants to retain it any cost. He has asked AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka affairs K Venugopal to ensure that panels at all polling booths across the state are set up and trained at a war footing to ensure maximum turnout and to make sure that every genuine voter gets to cast his/her ballot.
“We are going for a thorough revamp of booth-level teams. We are training them to interact with voters and ensure maximum turnout on the polling day,” Venugopal told The Sunday Standard.
Around eight lakh workers will be deployed at all 58,000 booths across Karnataka.
Party strategists said the first lesson was learnt the hard way in the recent Gujarat polls where the party was unable to ensure that every Congress supporter turned out to cast his vote. “The significance of booth level teams was realised after the Gujarat review. We ran an aggressive campaign to corner the BJP but strengthening ground level organisation is also needed. That is being attempted in Karnataka,” a senior AICC functionary said.
The second objective is to ensure the electoral rolls are updated. Party insiders alleged the BJP often tinkers with the voter list and gets names of elderly and women from traditionally Congress supporting families deleted. Usually, elderly and women voters do not pursue the matter with poll officials when they find their names missing in the voter list.
But party sources said tinkering with electoral rolls was costing the Congress around 5,000 votes per assembly seat, a significant number in a tightly contested election. “There are around 13 members in every booth-level team. We are holding seat-wise conventions to train them to bring any anomalies in the voter list to the notice of poll officials immediately,” B R Naidu, a Congress worker in Kundgol said. Sources said the party has covered around 50 per cent seats and would complete the target by January end.