New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi will address his first election rally in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh next week, over three months after the Maoist bloodbath that had virtually wiped out Congress leadership in the state.
Rahul will also hold interactions with party leaders in the state after addressing the rally at Jagdalpur on September 26, as a reconstituted Congress gears up to take on ruling BJP in assembly elections this year.
The party has tried to check groupism in the state unit, which has always been its bane in Chhattisgarh and efforts have been made through dinner diplomacy to bring the sulking leader and former chief minister Ajit Jogi on board.
Congress had high hopes from the state where Raman Singh has been chief minister for last two terms. Bastar region, which had been a stronghold of Congress saw BJP making deep inroads in electoral politics there while Naxals rule the roost in interiors and otherwise.
Maoists had ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in Bastar on May 25 during the party`s Parivartan Yatra, killing 27 people including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, senior leader Mahendra Karma, V C Shukla and ex-MLA Uday Mudaliyar.
In July, Congress reconstituted its state unit making Union minister Charan Das Mahant as party chief for Chhattisgarh.
Jogi and Mahant reportedly do not see eye to eye with each other. The former had complained that while all other PCC chiefs came to him in past, Mahant never called on him.
However, last month, a dinner was organised by Jogi at his residence in Delhi, which was attended by all senior Congress leaders from Chhattisgarh including Mahant. Later a similar dinner meeting was organised at Mahant`s place, where Jogi came.
There were also indications earlier that Jogi unhappy over recent changes in the state party unit, could be included in the Congress Campaign Committee for the state.
Jogi had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the last week of July.