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Rahul plans Gulf outreach next month
By Ashraf Padanna September 10, 2018
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TRIVANDRUM: Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be in the Gulf next month as part of his global outreach ahead of the national elections eight months away.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Himanshu Vyas, who is in charge of Indian Overseas Congress (IOC), was in Gulf last week for preparatory works.

The scion of the Gandhi-Nehru family was in Bahrain in January interacting with the Indian diaspora. He had undertaken similar trips to the US, Singapore, Germany and the UK.

One of the organisers said Gandhi would be addressing professionals and taking questions from the audience freely, a counter-narrative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style of functioning.

“The programme is at its conception stage. We’ll announce the venue and a detailed itinerary soon,” he said. “It will be on the lines of events held in other countries.”

Gandhi is currently on a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, circumambulating the sacred mountain in Tibet on foot through a 52-km path.

In Gulf, he’s expected to interact with policymakers, business leaders and students like he did during the sessions elsewhere abroad, which the party sees as highly effective in presenting himself as a leader of aspiring youngsters.

He is also expected to launch the regional wing of the revamped IOC led by Sam Pitroda, the architect of the Indian telecom revolution who was an advisor to his father the later Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Mansoor Palloor, the IOC coordinator in the Gulf, said it would replace the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC), which represents Kerala expatriates.

Reports said the Congress leader would hit the campaign trail in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh where crucial state elections are due this year.

The party’s stakes are high in these three states which together contribute 65 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament.

He is likely to take a couple of days off for the Middle East visit, and the party is in search for a venue that can accommodate 50,000 people for the diaspora meet.

Meanwhile, MM Hassan, the party’s president in Kerala, said it would observe a daylong shutdown on Monday as part of the national strike against high taxes on petroleum products.

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