Ahmedabad, January 12: The Congress in Gujarat will soon start candidate selection process for the upcoming Lok Sabha contest in a bid to score the first-mover advantage over the rival BJP, which had whitewashed the opposition party in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf by winning all 26 seats in the 2014 polls.
At a meeting of party leaders held here Friday, it was decided that the candidate selection process will be initiated soon and names of the probables will be submitted to the party high-command, who will take a final call on the timing to release the list, a party leader said. 2019 Lok Sabha Election Results Predictions: National Approval Ratings Expects Hung Verdict With BJP-led NDA Winning 247 Seats, UPA 171.
The Congress is aggressively reworking its poll strategy against the backdrop of the humiliating drubbing of 2014. In the assembly elections held in Gujarat in 2017, the Congress improved its tally to 77 seats restricting the BJP to 99 seats.
A senior Gujarat Congress leader said after the meeting that the party will now concentrate on winning booths in each of 26 Lok Sabha seats, and will appoint electoral "page-presidents" to achieve this goal.
It seems the Congress is taking a cue from its rival, BJP which had introduced the 'electoral roll page president' or "panna pramukh" mechanism to connect with voters.
At the Friday meeting, Congress leaders also decided to invite Rahul Gandhi to launch the party campaign in Gujarat in the second week of February, said state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
"The process to select candidates and form a panel of names for each Lok Sabha seat will be completed as soon as possible," he said.
Doshi said the names of probable candidates will be submitted to the party high-command who will take a call on releasing the list. The spokesperson also said the party has assigned responsibility of each constituency to specific persons.
State Congress chief Amit Chavda told reporters the party will concentrate on winning booths in Lok Sabha constituencies as part of its gameplan to make a comeback.
"By the end of this month, party workers will be given responsibility of booths. Going beyond booths, we intend to appoint 'page presidents'," Chavda said Friday.
Page presidents, who will be assigned a page of the electoral roll each, are supposed to stay in touch with the voters on their lists and motivate them to vote for the Congress.
Interestingly, the page in-charge mechanism was first introduced by BJP president Amit Shah. Under this model, the party assigns a page of the electoral roll each to a 'panna pramukh' or page in-charge who is the first point of contact for most voters in a given constituency. The page in-charge's job is to build rapport with the voters on their lists and motivate them to vote for the BJP.