Congress candidates feel Modi has edge over Rahul

Hardeep Singh Bedi

New Delhi, May 06: As the country is voting in the fifth phase of the seven-phased general elections, the Congress candidates feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an edge over their party president Rahul Gandhi.

Two Congress-ruled states - Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh- have also gone to the polls on Monday. Voting is being conducted for the remaining 12 seats of Rajasthan and seven seats of Madhya Pradesh.

According to the sources, the Congress candidates have told the chief ministers of these states that the fight is going to be tough as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more popular than Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

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The candid admission of Congress candidates has made Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath concerned, say sources.

It is notable that Rahul Gandhi has given permission to the chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states to fight elections in their name and win maximum Lok Sabha seats for the party.

This has happened first time in the history of the Congress that it is fighting Lok Sabha elections by highlighting the work of its state governments.

According to the sources, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has promised to win more than seven seats out of 11, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh more than nine seats out of 13, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot more than 14 seats out of 25, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath more than 15 seats out of 29.

As per the new strategy, all Congress-ruled states prepared campaigning material, like videos, songs, and slogans which highlight the state government's achievements.

However, the oldtimers of Congress say that the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states did not pay requisite attention to strengthening party organisation in their respective states.

An oldtimer tells this scribe on the condition of anonymity that the biggest weakness of the Congress is that it doesn't have a strong organisational setup like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress leader is of the opinion the crowd which joins a party in the power after the change of guard shouldn't be construed as party workers.

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"There is a general trend in politics that once you are in power then opportunists would crash your gate. You shouldn't treat them as party workers. A party worker is the one who has stayed with you through thick and thin. Unfortunately, our party doesn't have a strong organisational base in Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh despite being in power," rues the oldtimer.

Congress ruled Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have 78 Lok Sabha seats. Currently, the Congress has three MPs each in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, and one in Chhattisgarh. The Congress couldn't win even a single seat in Rajasthan in 2014.

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