Sheila Dikshit, the 78-year-old chief ministerial candidate boarded a bus today along with Raj Babbar, the actor-turned-politician who’s been named the head of the party in Uttar Pradesh, for a 600-kilometre drive to Kanpur. En route, they will stop to interact with party workers. With the yatra, which was flagged off by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, Congress launched its campaign for India’s biggest state – Uttar Pradesh. As its main campaign slogan, the Congress, whose strategy is being assembled by Prashant Kishor, has decided on “27 saal, UP behaal” (27 years of UP in ruins). Sources said the aim is to target not one particular party that has governed Uttar Pradesh, but all governments that have led the state since the Congress was last in charge. A week from now, Rahul Gandhi will meet with 50,000 party workers in Lucknow, said sources, based on its learning experience from rivals like the BJP, whose well-organised cadres are a primary component of recent electoral triumphs. Mr Gandhi will introduce the team of leaders selected to frontline the UP effort to Congress members and volunteers. On August 2, Mr Gandhi’s mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is likely to hold a roadshow in Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress campaign debuts in a week when Mayawati, a Dalit leader and four-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, established her skill and clout as a politician. The 69-year-old led the opposition’s attack against the ruling BJP in parliament over the thrashing of Dalits in Gujarat, the PM’s home state, by cow vigilantes, who filmed the beatings and uploaded them on social media.
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