Just a day after announcing that a seat-sharing pact with the NCP for the upcoming municipal elections has been sealed, the Congress party is now going all out to capture the BMC. Apart from requests to party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to address at least one rally each, dates of other Congress heavyweights like Union Ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Veerappa Moily and Kumari Selja have also been sought, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee Chief Kripashankar Singh told Sunday MiD DAY on Saturday.
Other young Congress members and major crowd-pullers like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada and Sachin Pilot are also likely to pitch in during rallies. This is in addition to Union ministers from Maharashtra like Milind Deora.
The Mumbai Congress Chief said, "Campaigning will start with a joint rally in the presence of Congress and NCP leaders."
During the poll campaigning, one Congress leader who will have a lot of work on his hands will be Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. According to Singh, Chavan, who played an important role in seat-sharing talks and convincing the central leadership of the Congress about an alliance with the NCP, will campaign extensively in the next few weeks. "We have requested the CM to be present for rallies in every part of the city from February 5. The party wants to reach out to people through the efforts he has been taking for Mumbai's overall development," he said.
"No chance of dissension"
The Mumbai Congress Chief was also quick to allay any fears of dissension arising among party members over allocation of wards. According to him, barring Chembur, Vile Parle, Dharavi and parts of South Mumbai, NCP will contest in wards of all other Assembly constituencies in Mumbai. This will result in the Sharad Pawar led party having a presence everywhere except in wards under Congress MLAs Chandrakant Handore (Chembur), Varsha Gaikwad (Dharavi), Krishna Hegde (Vile Parle), and those that fall in some parts of South Mumbai.
According to Congress spokesman Nizamuddin Rayeen, the seat-sharing formula has been devised so smoothly that no rebellion is expected. "Close to 3,000 ticket-seekers who have purchased party forms to contest polls are from the wards where the Congress will put up its candidates," he said.
MNS turns its symbol around
On Saturday, the state election commission received an unusual request from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The party has asked to change the direction of its election symbol, the train, that faces left, as the party wants the symbol to face the other way. According to an election commission official, the request is related to astrology. The request has been accepted and the changes will show on the EVM.