Ahmedabad: Opposition Congress in Gujarat is carrying out an aggressive and sustained campaign ahead of the state assembly polls, taking up issues affecting people and connecting with the masses by organising various yatras and agitations, which has for the first time put the ruling BJP on the defensive.
Even Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has never bothered to react to statements and promises of state Congress leaders in the run up to December 2012 elections, has had to respond to some of its poll promises.
"Earlier, state leaders of Congress, instead of doing any ground work, used to depend more on virtual campaign through advertisements and press statements and held the hope that charisma of their central leadership will sail them through," a Congress leader said.
But this time there is a planned meticulous campaign in which state level leaders have actually gone to the people of Gujarat and tried to connect with a large number of people through various yatras and stirs and have taken up real issues affecting them, he said.
"The Congress campaign had started a year ahead of the scheduled date of polls. Our focus of campaign is arrogance of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi versus democratic values," Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
"We have held a sustained campaign against the issues concerning people, which the present government has failed to tackle like unemployment, corruption, benefits of development not reaching poor and lower middle class and insensitivity of those in power towards problem of common man," Doshi said.
Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia, election campaign committee chief Shankarsinh Vaghela and leader of opposition Shaktisinh Gohil have not only focused on building of organisational strengths, but in tandem have targeted right areas and sections of the society for the campaign of the party, he said.
Instead of just campaigning by holding election rallies after the date of polls are announced as was the routine earlier, the Congress so far has organized four big yatras-- Hisab do Jawab do, Sardar Sandesh yatara, Adivasi adhikar yatra, Kinaro Bachao yatra (for fishermen).
In these yatras state level leaders have extensively travelled all the districts of the state and tried to connect with people, Doshi said.
On the other hand Modi, who has penchant of holding yatras ahead of elections, has not come up with any such plan this time.
Besides, various agitational programmes have been held from time to time in the last one year. We have also announced three vision documents as a part of our 12 points which has evoked much response from the people, Doshi said.
The Congress has also unleashed an advertising campaign in local television channels and local newspapers pointing out weakness of the Modi government. It has also taken on the strong presence of Modi on internet to attract young voters.
The aggressive and sustained Congress campaign in the last few months has put the BJP on defensive as the state government and the state unit of the party have issued numerous denials to the allegations raised by the Congress during their campaign.
One of the vision documents of Congress which promises to give houses to women of poor and middle class families at very nominal rates has become an instant hit among large population of the state as there are long queues of women outside the party offices to get forms of the scheme, which has come under severe criticism of Modi.
Modi has sharply reacted by saying that the distribution of forms to poor women is cheating as there is no guarantee that they will come to power. They have not implemented such schemes in the states where they were in power and are not distributing forms with the stamp of the central government and signature of the prime minister, which means that there is no guarantee that they will provide cheap homes.