With Congress general secretary Priyanka Vadra making a strong pitch for Leader of the Opposition in Assam Assembly Debabrata Saikia at Nazira on Sunday, the Gandhi siblings have focussed on the State for the third day in a row.
Former chief Rahul Gandhi wound up his two-day trip on Saturday with the release of the manifesto in Guwahati, while Ms. Vadra will spend another day in Assam and visit the birth place of 15th century Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardev to wrest back the State that was once a Congress bastion.
But the top party campaigners have carefully avoided campaigning in neighbouring West Bengal. Party insiders say Mr. Gandhi, a Lok Sabha member from Kerala, is likely to campaign for the Left Front-Congress alliance in Bengal only after Kerala voting is over on April 6 as the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is Congress’ main rival in Kerala.
A source told this reporter that if the Gandhis campaign alongside Left party leaders in Bengal ahead of the Kerala voting, it will send “confusing signals” to workers and voters.
Campaign in Kerala
In Kerala, where the Congress’ own assessment is of a close fight, it doesn’t want to be seen as having any “soft spot” for the Left and would welcome some extra aggression from the Gandhi siblings.
On Monday, Mr. Gandhi has a series of programmes in Kochi and Alappuzha districts.
In Bengal, where the high-pitched battle seems focused on ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP, the Left Front-Congress alliance is fighting for its political relevance.
A senior Congress leader told The Hindu that a hung Assembly in Bengal would be the best possible scenario for the alliance as it could play the kingmaker’s role.
In Assam, where the party’s internal surveys have shown a gap between the ruling BJP and the Congress, the party is pushing Ms. Vadra and Mr. Gandhi besides banking on the strength of its alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Bodo People’s Front.
Though the emergence of regional parties like the Asom Jatiya Parishad and the Raizor Dal out of the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) movement had threatened to make it a three-cornered fight, the Congress has stepped up the campaign to make it a bi-polar contest in most seats.