New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Having outlined its roadmap for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress will focus on effectively propagating achievements of the UPA-II government, early declaration of candidates and cohesive electoral effort by its state units, party leaders say.
They said the party is keen to maintain the tempo generated at Friday's All India Congress Committee meeting here where party vice president Rahul Gandhi had charged up the cadres through his forceful speeches.
"The way he (Rahul Gandhi) is working, it appears he will keep matters in fast mode," Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat told IANS.
Gandhi, who was appointed chief of Congress campaign for the April-May elections at the AICC meeting, has been meeting party leaders from various states for feedback on the ways to improve the party's prospects in the polls. Gandhi told the delegates to vociferously take up issues affecting the people to improve the party's connect with the masses.
Congress leaders said the first list of candidates for Lok Sabha polls was expected to be declared by the middle of February.
They said that the party is likely to first declare candidates from its 204 MPs.
"The first list of party candidates is expected in 15-20 days," Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa said.
Bajwa was among the leaders who met Rahul Gandhi a day after the AICC meeting to provide feedback about party's preparations for the Lok Sabha polls.
Party sources said that many of those who met Gandhi had talked of the need of enforcing discipline so that the prospects of Congress candidates were not jeopardised.
"Often, the prospects of a candidate is marred by rebels. Many a time, these rebels have the quiet patronage of a senior state leader," said an AICC member from Uttarakhand, who did not want to be identified.
Party leaders said that Gandhi's tour plan was being finalised and his speeches will help maintain the momentum of party's electoral effort.
"The workers were charged up listening to speeches of party leadership at the AICC meeting. They are confident that Rahulji will talk to them directly and are geared up to make all efforts to make him prime minister," Mahila Congress chief Shobha Ojha said.
A party leader said that there was wide acceptance at the AICC meet that the party had been unable to properly highlight the achievements of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and also steps it had taken to tackle corruption and price rise.
"This has been our weakness and efforts would be made in this direction. If we only blame the opposition parties for appropriating the good work done by us, there is some fault in our strategy," a party leader told IANS not willing to be named.
Gandhi, in his speech at the AICC meet, had sought to boost the morale of party workers and given them points to engage with the man on the street.
Party leaders said that Gandhi's demand for raising the subsidised LPG cylinders from nine to 12 had gone down very well with workers as had his announcement that the party will decide candidates for 15 Lok Sabha seats on the basis of direct feedback from office-bearers at the grassroots.
Another party leader said that electoral dividends will come from the perception the Congress is able to create in the minds of the people.
"What matters in politics is perception. The whole effort has to be geared in that direction whether it is through grassroots contact, social media or rallies. A large number of rallies can also be ineffective if they do not create a favourable perception in the minds of the people," the leader said.
The AICC meet saw party leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeking to energise party workers and remove any sense of despondency in the party following the reverses in assembly elections in four states late last year.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)