The party sources say that it was Rahul Gandhi’s idea to mobilise farmers, as Akalis were losing support due to its anti-farmer policies

NEW DELHI : The Congress has drawn up plans to spearhead a farmers’ agitation in Punjab soon after its state president Capt Amarinder Singh, a former CM, returns from 20 days of his foreign tour.

It is a part of a strategy to win over the farmers from the ruling Akali Dal in the run-up to the Assembly elections early next year, and use their agitation to project Amarinder as the party’s CM candidate.

Amarinder constituted six groups of the party led by senior leaders that are fanning out to reach out 500 mandis in the state in the next 20 days to interact with the farmers coming to sell their produce to understand their grievances and mobilise them for the agitation against the State Government, not able to make arrangements for procurement because of the banks refusing to give any more advances.

The party sources said the idea of mobilising the farmers came at a meeting called in Chandigarh, last Saturday by Rahul Gandhi, when many district presidents pointed out that the Akalis are losing support of the farmers because of Parkash Singh Badal government’s anti-farmer policies and it is the right time to provide them leadership to make them part with the Akali Dal.

Strategist Prashant Kishor, who attended the Chandigarh conclave along with Rahul Gandhi, suggested that mobilisation of the farmers would help in putting spotlight on Captain Amarinder Singh, as he forsees big gain to the Congress in building the poll campaign around him as the Congress face in the Assembly elections.

Though Amarinder has many detractors working against him like former Punjab PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and veteran Rajinder Kaur Bhattal,  Kishor found the Captain having the maximum clout among the voters.

He, however, realised the damage that infighting can do to the party’s prospects in the elections from the way the detractors tried to claim differences between the Captain and the Congress central leadership citing how Rahul did not declare him the CM candidate in interaction with the media after the Chandigarh meeting.

Kishor has suggested a plan to keep all detractors in good humour with responsibilities given to each one of them to help in projecting the party as a united team. Three of the detractors have been given leadership of the groups constituted to interact with the farmers and the role they play in the next three weeks in mobilising the farmers would weigh in what positions they get in the new state executive to be finalised by Rahul, the party sources said.

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