Haryana assembly polls: Will star campaigners help Congress's sinking ship?

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Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda with son Deepender.
The Congress may have not yet finalised the candidates for the upcoming Haryana assembly polls but the party has prepared the list of as many as 40 star campaigners who will be seen seeking votes for them.

As per sources, the party has not arrived at a consensus over candidates for at least 22 seats in 90-member Haryana assembly. But, the party has firmed up its strategy for the state by preparing the list of star campaigners and deciding to release the election manifesto on October 1.

Who all are there in the star campaigners' list?

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be among the 40 star campaigners of Congress.

Himachal Pardesh CM Virbhadra Singh and his Uttarakhand counterpart Harish Rawat, Lok Sabha MP from Punjab Amarinder Singh and Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda will also canvass during the electioneering, a party spokesman said.

Big shots to campaign for Congress in Haryana assembly polls?

The list also includes the names of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Gulam Nabi Azad, former Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scinidia, Jitender Singh, Sachin Pilot and former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The party has also planned to invite JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who's wife is from Haryana, and RLD chief Ajit Singh, who is a strong Jat leader from western UP.

Bringing in star campaigners will not help the Congress

By merely swarming the election venues with star campaigners will not help the party, rather on-ground work will help Congress in Haryana. The party has not performed well on the ground and there is anger against it in the minds of voters. The party's image has tarnished badly and it should focus on once again working at grass root levels.

Stop factionalism in party

The party is also facing terrible infighting as the members are not coming to an agreement over naming of candidates. Top leaders in the party are either seeking tickets for their own or demanding tickets for their kin. The party has not decided the names of as many as 22 candidates just because everyone is not happy with the choice of candidates. Everybody is busy bargaining for their own vested interests without caring about the party's future.

As per reports, one of the main reasons for the delay in the process of ticket distribution is the face-off between CM Hooda and state HPCC chief Dr Ashok Tanwar.

According to sources, both Hooda and Tanwar have locked horns on the issue of ticket allotment. The names being proposed for the tickets has disturbed a particular faction. If the sources are to be believed as many as 15 sitting party MLAs are likely to lose the tickets as per the current list.

Credibility of star campaigners

It was the same galaxy of star campaigners who were given a thumbs down by the voters of Haryana and other parts of the country in the 2014 general elections. The Congress was decimated by the BJP not only in Haryana but also in other parts of the world. The party couldn't even open its account in as many as eight states during the Lok Sabha polls and it managed to win just one seat from Haryana where it is in power. The party, in 2009 Lok Sabha election, had won nine seats from the state.

The party received a dismal 23 per cent of the vote share in the Lok Sabha polls hence its sole objective should be on improving its support base and not just relying on the star campaigners. A few of the proposed campaigners like Sharad Yadav, Ajit Singh, etc. even failed to win from their respective Parliamentary seats. Thus one wonders of what relevance their presence would be for the candidate in the electioneering.

Opponents gaining grounds

One of the biggest threat to the Congress's sinking ship in the state is the rise of its rivals BJP and INLD in the state. The BJP and INLD are seen to be emerging as the two most dominant parties in the October 15 polls in Haryana, though it is still unclear about who among the two will emerge as the top player.

Also, if the party thinks just bringing star campaigners would turn the tides in Congress's chief ministerial candidates, Hooda, then rival parties are also not going to sit idly. Hence, it will be interesting to see if mere presence of these star campaigners steer Congress's sinking ship in Haryana.

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