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Political Power Play: Sampark for Samarthan vs Project Shakti

With the days advancing towards the 2019 elections, BJP and Congress both are sparing no efforts to woo the voters. While some party makes the attempt to attract the common man, the other takes an initiative by offering the Rajya Sabha seats to the bigwigs of our nation from their respective background as a part of the electoral campaigning. Ever since Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai has come to the light, it has become the talk of the town as 1000 auto rickshaw drivers will be gathering to welcome the Congress leader on his arrival. On the other hand, BJP’s massive outreach programme ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ which highlights the achievements of the government in its four-year tenure also manages to garner the much-wanted attention.

Initially, Congress President Rahul Gandhi will appear in the Thane court for a hearing on June 12 in a defamation case filed by an RSS worker. Later, Gandhi will interact with almost 15,000 booth-level workers in Bombay Exhibition Centre along with Sanjay Nirupam constituted as Project Shakti that aims at empowering the ground level workers and facilitating two-way communication between the party workers and the central leadership. This marks as the first visit of Rahul Gandhi after being appointed as the President of the party in 2017.

Congress legislator Mohd Arif Naseem Khan stated that this is not a political strategy. He added, “The union of the auto drivers and people are willing to come out to support Rahul Gandhi with slogans such as “Rahul Gandhi aage badho, hum tumhare saath hai”. BJP is meeting the stars because common men have rejected them as they have not fulfilled their promises in four years. While Congress is addressing to poor people, it shows the difference between both the parties.”

At present, Congress is uplifted by the success of stitching together with an alliance in Karnataka, the party is all prepped up to do the same in Maharashtra with NCP ahead of next year’s general and assembly elections to take place concurrently. Even before Karnataka, the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and smaller opposition parties in Maharashtra have demonstrated that they can work together. In fact, an informal anti-BJP alliance started emerging in 2017 itself when all opposition parties joined a ‘Sangharsha Yatra’ to demand a farm loan waiver. With Shiv Sena and BJP parting their ways may also bring a boost for Congress and can prove to be a crucial exercise for the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP spokesperson Avadhut Wagh commented, “Rahul Gandhi is coming to Mumbai to attend the court proceedings, where he thought of communicating with the party workers during his spare time. Congress’ deliberate attempt to emphasise on Project Shakti for common people is a failure of the party in itself. According to me, this programme is just to fill the gap as BJP is working for the welfare of common people, farmers, youth, women, tribals and backward class.”

Hence, now BJP is leaving no stones unturned to influence that domain of the society who could get them the power. BJP President Amit Shah along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been going across the country as part of his ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ – a door to door outreach, where BJP President will meet over 50 dignitaries, billed as opinion makers, seeking their support for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He has already met Madhuri Dixit, Ratan Tata, Kapil Dev, Baba Ramdev and former COAS Dalbir Singh Suhag, Milkha Singh, while Yogi Adityanath met Sanjay Dutt. During the meet, Shah had also offered a seat in Rajya Sabha.

NCP leader Chitra Wagh expressed, “In my opinion, the common man is suffering from issues such as inflation, women security problem, lack of development, the unhappiness of common people and increasing unemployment. Hence, even if BJP meets Ratan Tata, Madhuri Dixit and all bigshots, citizens’ problems won’t be resolved. BJP should realise that how they have cheated the people by not fulfilling their promises in these four years. As far as the programme is concerned, every party does booth-level management and it is every party’s responsibility to build the outfit at grassroot level, so we should see things that way. There is a need for NCP and Congress alliance.”

It comes across as the Congress and NCP have started working on strengthening their organisational set ups separately and launched mass outreach programmes to take on the BJP-led state government. Amidst this stiff conflict to win the elections, what came to the limelight was Sharad Pawar’s meet with Rahul Gandhi few hours prior of Gandhi’s arrival to Mumbai. NCP chief Sharad Pawar fled to Delhi to meet Rahul Gandhi at his official residence to discuss the opposition strategy prevailing the current political scenario.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said, “Both parties are doing it for the sake of elections. BJP spends crores of rupees for the campaigning and now to counter them, Congress is also doing the same. While Sharad Pawar plays a political guidance to all as earlier Narendra Modi mentioned Pawar as his guide. How people will react to Project Shakti will be interesting because people voted for BJP to have incumbency for Congress.”

Forming a grand alliance seems to be a good start on the part of Congress and NCP, with Congress creating a buzz over Gandhi’s visit by putting up hoardings at every lane and by-lanes in Mumbai for Gandhi’s address. Whether this act of Project Shakti signifies to counter the Sampark for Samarthan is yet to be unveiled.

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