"Congress Lao, Punjab Bachao"
"Chahunda Hai Punjab, Captain Di Sarkar"
These slogans will hit every nook and corner of Punjab in a big way from 24 September, as the Congress party in Punjab has given an aggressive push to its campaigning strategy ahead of the 2017 assembly polls to counter the growing grassroot popularity of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the penetration of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadre in the state.
The party that is desperately looking forward to leverage the existing discontent amongst the masses against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in its favour, will launch a mass contact campaign called 'Congress Lao, Punjab Bachao Yatra (Bring Congress, Save Punjab campaign)' on 24 September. Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh will flag off the campaign on wheel from Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh.
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has chalked out a 37-day programme during which its 39 senior leaders will criss-cross the state in specially designed and branded mini buses called ‘Punjab Congress Express Rath’ to communicate with the masses, both urban and rural.
"This campaign on wheels will cover 13 zones, comprising all the Parliamentary constituencies and assembly segments in Punjab. We have formed 13 teams headed by senior leaders of the state and each team will visit each zone. Each team will hold four meetings a day. We’ll visit each assembly segment thrice in an interval of 12 days to reinforce the agenda of Congress," Punjab Congress committee vice-president, Lal Singh told Firtspost.
"Through this mass contact programme, we want to tell people how the agriculture, economy, education, aspirations of the youth and development — everything got wiped out in Punjab under the SAD government. Punjab is in a state of anarchy due to rise in crime, corruption, drug menace and misgovernance. We’ll also tell people about our plan to redevelop Punjab and bring back its glory," said Singh, who’s also heading this campaign on wheels.
- 26 September: Punjab Congress Express rath — Campaign on wheels will hit the streets, as 13 teams in 13 buses will proceed to respective destinations.
- There will 13 customised buses, painted in colours resembling the national flag, called ‘Punjab Congress Express Rath’ to cover 39 locations in 37 days. The buses bear slogan "Chahunda Hai Punjab, Captain Di Sarkar"
- Entire state has been divided into 13 zones comprising all the Parliamentary constituencies and Assembly segments.
- 39 senior leaders of Punjab Congress divided into 13 teams will participate in the campaign.
- Each team will hold four meetings per day, resulting to a total of 52 meetings per day.
- In all, 10,404 meetings have been scheduled to take place in all the assembly segments in Punjab.
- Barring Saturday and Sunday, the campaign will take place on all the five days in a week.
- Door-to-door campaigning and nukkad meetings will be the part of the campaigning.
"Punjab Congress Express is a customised rath, which will carry the promises of Congress. It has been branded to create an impactful visibility of Congress on the roads of Punjab. The rath will carry popular collaterals of Congress like keychain and mobile stickers," said a member of the Punjab’s campaign on wheels’ team.
A three-prong campaign strategy campaign
Ahead of 2017 Assembly election, the Punjab Congress has adopted a three-prong strategy to reach out to people through rallies.
- Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh’s independent on-going campaigns like 'Halke Vich Captain', ‘Coffee with Captain’ etc.
- Punjab Congress Express 37-day campaign by senior leaders of Punjab Congress.
- Mega rally by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tentatively in October.
"This 37-day programme is independent of Capt Amarinder’s rallies and the ones to be conducted by Rahulji. Our campaign is three stages,"a Punjab Congress leader added.
Prior to this Punjab Congress Express programme, which will actually hit the streets on 26 September, Capt Amarinder’s on-going campaigning series has already gained a connect with the masses, especially the youth.
But, simultaneously, besides the RSS cadre, the AAP’s popularity is visible at the grassroot level.
However, Pradesh Congress vice-president Lal Singh doesn’t agree with the fact that the AAP has been gaining a strong foothold in Punjab.
"Fissures have appeared within AAP in Punjab. The differences among their leaders and volunteers are clear and they have got scattered like broom sticks. While, AAP is unable to tackle the problems in Delhi, where it came to power with a historical majority, the SAD-BJP combine has destroyed this state. It’s only the Congress that believes in a secular and democratic system of governance can bring change in Punjab," added Singh.