Shillong: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will kick-off a two-day election campaign in a way truly unique in Congress-ruled Meghalaya from Tuesday, with a musical festival showcasing the cultural diversity of the northeastern state.
Election to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly will be held on February 27.
Gandhi who will be arriving on Tuesday will travel by road to Jowai, the district headquarters of West Jaintia Hills, about 60 Km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, to drum up support for his party candidates in the seven assembly constituencies, Congress Lok Sabha member Vincent Pala told journalists on Monday .
He said the Congress president will return to Shillong for an executive committee meeting of the Meghalaya Congress and will attend the music concert “Celebrate Peace and Way of Life” a celebration of Meghalaya’s music, culture and way of life of the people of the state.
“The musical festival would be a celebration of peace and way of life in Meghalaya since at present, the country has seen many things happen which are against the Constitution,” AICC Coordinator in-charge elections in Meghalaya, Yashomita Thakur said.
“What to eat, how to live…it is being imposed. The people of Meghalaya believe in the spirit of secularism. We want to spread through this music concert the message of peace, liberty and secularism,” she told journalists.
Pala said that Gandhi will hold a breakfast interaction with various religious heads and leaders of indigenious faith believers belonging to the tribal Khasi and Jaintia, besides traditional chiefs On Wednesday.
He will held address the women folk in the afternoon at St. Edmund’s College after an interaction with senior journalists.
Pala said the Congress President will be touring across Meghalaya to drum up support for his party nominees in all the 60 assembly constituencies.
Gandhi would also visit Garo Hills, which was once considered the stronghold of the National People’s Party founder late Purno A. Sangma on a date to be re-scheduled for campaign.
“Our party president’s visit to Tura was postponed for now because the Special Protection Group (SPG) has rejected the Pawan Hans chopper available to fly him to Tura due to its age factor,” Pala said.
“Pawan Hans chopper available to ferry Gandhi for the day was over 20 years old and the SPG rejected the idea to take him to Tura. However, Gandhi will take the Pawan Hans chopper on Tuesday from Guwahati to Shillong, he said.
Pala said that the Congress President will visit Meghalaya three times during this election.
Gandhi’s visit is significant for the Congress that has witnessed the exit of seven legislators while three other senior legislators, including four-time Chief Minister D.D. Lapang, have declared themselves “retired” from electoral politics.
Of the seven legislators who quit the party, five have joined the National People’s Party.
Alexander Hek, who was Health and Family Welfare Minister in the Mukul Sangma government before being sacked in 2017, joined the BJP, while Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Chief Executive Member P.N. Syiem joined the newly-floated People’s Democratic Front.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December kicked off the campaign for the BJP here and attacked the Congress-led government, saying it had created scam after scam while BJP was only for development.
Seeking the electorate’s vote in favour of BJP, Modi said: “The BJP’s agenda is development, speedy development, and all-around development.”
Following Modi’s campaign, BJP President Amit Shah launched the campaign in Garo Hills and voiced confidence that the party will overthrow the Congress.