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In a first, Congress fighting LS elections on its Chief Ministers' faces

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New Delhi, April 13: Probably for the first time, the Congress has agreed to fight Lok Sabha elections in the name of its chief ministers rather than the central leadership.

In a first, Congress fighting LS elections on its Chief Ministers faces

In order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress president Rahul Gandhi has given a free hand to the party's chief ministers to formulate winning strategies in their respective states.

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Congress ruled Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan have 78 Lok Sabha seats. Currently, the Congress has three MPs each in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, and one in Chhattisgarh. The Congress couldn't win even a single seat in Rajasthan in 2014.

Despite having governments in these states, the party's internal surveys indicated that the BJP was still having an upper hand.

Concerned Congress high command changed its strategy and asked the chief ministers of these states to win more seats than the BJP at any cost.

Enthused chief ministers have also assured the party that they will win more seats than the target.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has promised to win more than seven seats out of 11, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh more than nine seats out of 13, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot more than 14 seats out of 25, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath more than 15 seats out of 29.

As per the new strategy, all Congress-ruled states have prepared campaigning material, like videos, songs, and slogans which highlight the state government's achievements.

The chief ministers have also been given freedom to lure opposition leaders into the Congress. The chief ministers' opinion is also being given preference in selecting candidates from their states.

The new strategy, however, has curtailed powers of Congress general secretary in-Charges of the states. Earlier, general secretary in-charges had immense powers but now they have been tasked to tackle the factionalism in the states.

"Captain Amarinder Singh was the first state leader who had taken command during Punjab Assembly elections and won the state for the party on his own. Right from arranging funds and formulating strategies, he was responsible for everything," says a Congress watcher.

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With the success in Punjab, the Congress high command gave full freedom to prominent state leaders during the recently held Assembly elections and snatched Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan from the BJP.

"In Chhattisgarh, T.S. Singh Deo was tasked to arrange funding for the elections and Bhupesh Baghel was given free hand to unite the party. In Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia; and in Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were given A to Z responsibility to win elections. After the success of the experiment during assembly elections, the Congress high command has realised the importance of decentralising the powers. Therefore, the chief ministers are being given driver seats in the Lok Sabha elections," the watcher adds.

It will be interesting to see whether this new strategy will be successful or not in the Lok Sabha elections.

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