Guided by Prashant Kishor, Rahul discusses strategy with Punjab leaders

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Chandigarh, April 16 (IANS) Guided by political strategist Prashant Kishor and his team, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday interacted with party leaders and workers near here to discuss the strategy for Punjab assembly polls likely to be held in February next year.

This was the first exercise carried out by the Congress leadership in Punjab as they prepare for the assembly polls in the state. The meeting, attended by senior Punjab Congress leaders including state unit president Amarinder Singh and party general secretary and Punjab in-charge Shakeel Ahmed, was held at a wedding resort at Zirakpur town on the outskirts of Chandigarh.

The Congress, which has been Punjab’s main opposition party since 2007, takes on a well-entrenched ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and an upbeat Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is gaining ground in the state. Punjab has 117 assembly seats.

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“The Congress party is standing together. We will try to give a new type of government to Punjab which is sensitive, is oriented towards future of youth, takes care of farmers and is able to bring back the industry to the state,” Rahul told media here.

The Congress poll strategy in the state is being planned and executed by the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), headed by Prashant Kishor.

Kishor is credited with devising the poll strategy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the 2014 general elections and the virtual electoral coup by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janta Dal-United (JD-U) in the Bihar assembly polls in November last year.

As part of the political strategy for Punjab, Rahul also held a closed door meeting with party leaders and workers.

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Sources in the Congress party said that Rahul urged the party leadership to fight the election together and keep aside their differences.

Top Punjab Congress leaders head various factions within the party and are known for infighting.

Rahul also informally interacted with a few editors and media persons separately.

The Congress vice president, given the political stakes in the run-up to the assembly polls, refused to comment on the SYL canal controversy.

“It is a sub-judice issue. I will not comment on it,” Rahul said, while avoiding any controversy in the matter.

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