Shillong: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are among the 40 star campaigners the party has announced for the Meghalaya assembly elections, party campaign committee, chairman Dr Celestine Lyngdoh said on Friday.
The list also includes the names of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot, Gaurav Gogoi, Jignesh Mevani, Kanhaiya Kumar are among the star campaigners of the party.
Notably, the Congress party in Meghalaya is facing challenges with almost all its party legislators shifting allegiance to the Bengal-based Trinamool Congress, the ruling National People’s Party and its regional ally the United Democratic Party.
“Despite all of our legislators leaving the party. We are going to weathered the storm since our grassroots support is still intact. Moreover, 80 per cent of our candidates are absolutely new faces in the electoral battle,” Lyngdoh said.
Although, the Congress party has listed out 40 star campaigners, which includes the Gandhi family and other senior party leaders, Lyngdoh, however, said, the state party has decided to rope in only a few star campaigners.
“Unlike in the previous years, this time we will not hold big rallies but instead we will focus to connect with the people at the grassroot level,” the veteran Congress leader said.
Hoping that the Congress will cross the halfway mark in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly, Lyngdoh said, “We are having a good fight in 42 assembly constituency. Out out of 42 seats, I have no doubt we will cross 22 – 25 mark but we believe that we might cross the 31 mark because of the strong anti-incumbency against the incumbent government and the attacks on religious minorities which is taking place in Assam and other parts of the Country.”
“You will see that the anti-incumbency factor would be in a our favour as people are fed against all the coalition partners of the outgoing MDA (Meghalaya Democratic Alliance). The incumbent government is plagued with controversies of corruption and the people are absolutely fed up with these ruling parties be it the NPP or the UDP,” Lyngdoh explained.
Asked about the TMC’s poll prospects, the former minister said, “I don’t see the TMC will make any impact in Meghalaya. Maybe Mukul Sangma (former Chief Minister) and his family may retain their seats not because of TMC but of their own identity in their respective constituencies.”
Mukul is contesting from Songsak and Tikrikilla assembly seats, and has three family members in the fray from the Garo Hills region.
His wife Dikanchi Dalbot Shira, brother Zenith M Sangma and daughter Miani D Shira, all sitting legislators are seeking re-election from Mahendraganj, Rangsakona and Ampati constituencies respectively.