G-23 leaders left out of phase-1 poll campaign
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are among 30 star campaigners who will address the party’s public meetings in poll-bound West Bengal for the first phase poll on March 27.
The list also comprises former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, former Rajasthan deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and former Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Other Congress leaders who have been roped in to improve the party’s chances in Bengal include Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhaghel, and former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath.
Others who are in the list released by the AICC are Abhishek Banerjee, the son of former president late Pranab Mukherjee, senior party leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khurshid, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jitin Prasada, Deependra Hooda and former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin.
However, leaders of the “G-23” faction, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Bhupendra Singh Hooda have been left out of the list of the party’s star campaigners for Bengal. Akhilesh Prasad Singh, who is a part of G-23, has, however, been included in the list.
The move not to include Nabi in the list of star campaigners in poll-bound WB, which has a significant Muslim population, may also be considered as a message to the rebels by the Congress leadership. This comes as the Congress leadership had earlier asked the disgruntled leaders to work for the party in States going to polls. The party during the next couple of days will announce its list of star campaigners for Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
In his letter to the EC Congress general secretary KC Venugopal mentioned the name of the leaders of the grand old party who would campaign in first phase of elections to Assembly.
The Congress is contesting the Assembly elections in Bengal in an alliance with the CPM-led Left Front. The Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated recently by Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui, is also part of this alliance. The alliance with ISF has even resulted in a public spat between Congress West Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma.