New Delhi : Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will start his Dalit outreach with many street meetings in Uttar Pradesh in the second round of campaign from November 11 that will go on for the next two months.

Before he plunges into the campaigning in the state, the Congress will carry out the second phase of the “Rahul Sandesh Yatra” from November 2 to 10 to reach out to the farmers in all districts across the state to convey them the message of his month-long Kisaan Yatra. All senior party leaders will take part in this phase. The ongoing first phase of the yatra is to conclude on Friday.

Contours of the Congress strategy after Diwali festival were discussed by the senior party leaders in a meeting chaired for the first time by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (44) and a decision was taken to focus on the urban voters not touched by Rahul in his Kisaan Yatra. Rahul was in Delhi but he opted to stay out of the meeting to let Priyanka get a frank briefing of the political scenario in Uttar Pradesh before she herself jumps into electioneering across the state.

In a bid to woo back the Dalits lost by the Congress to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the party has identified 8,500 villages that have at least 1,000 Dalits or have more than 50% Dalit population. Its plan is to let 200 teams of three members each fan out to these villages and organise a day-long “Dalit Sabha” to mobilise the people. The plan also included door-to-door campaign with the slogan “Shiksha, Suraksha, Swabhiman, Congress ke saath, Daliton ka Utthan.”

The teams visiting the villages will also identify three to six prominent Dalits in each village to build up a cadre that can work for the party during the elections.

The party sources said a similar Dalit overreach programme is planned in Punjab as a counter to the Jat community aligned with the Akali Dal of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi’s 4-day road-show in Punjab begins from the Golden Temple in Amritsar immediately after the Diwali festival and will go up to Patiala, the home ground of Amarinder Singh. Party sources said he would use his 350-km road tour to put his stamp on the Congress promise of full loan waiver to the farmers. The party has already collected signatures of the farmers on 22 lakh demand letters for waiving their loan arrears.

Asked about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too collecting signatures for the loan waiver scheme, a Congress leader said that the Congress has credibility on the Congress waiver promise as it had waived off the farmer’s loans during the UPA rule at the Centre earlier as well.

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