‘PM, Sonia, Rahul to campaign aggressively for polls’


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi will campaign “aggressively” to ensure the victory of the party and its alliance in the coming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.

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Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters here Thursday that the party would “make a clean sweep in all the state elections.”

However, sources said the Congress high command was not taking the Maharashtra assembly elections lightly.

“Senior Congress leaders will campaign aggressively in all the three states to ensure the party’s victory. Right now, the tour schedules are being firmed up,” a party leader said, refusing to be named.

The Congress has appointed Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as chairman of the Congress campaign committee and Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as chairman of the election management committee for the Maharashtra polls.

The party is contesting the Maharashtra polls in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and both parties have announced they would come up with a joint manifesto after the nominations close Sep 25.

However, the Congress is facing criticism after it Wednesday named Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil, as its candidate from the prestigious Amravati assembly constituency of Vidarbha in eastern Maharashtra, which was represented by state minister Sunil Deshmukh.

Deshmukh, who has been elected from there twice in 1999 and 2004, said he would contest the polls from Amaravati as an Independent.

However, the Congress Thursday played down Deshmukh’s rebel threat.

Jayanthi Natarajan said: “During election time, there is certain amount of unhappiness among those who are denied tickets. The real Congressmen will not rebel against official candidates.”