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New Delhi: As Rahul Gandhi offered a pep talk to lawmakers ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, the Congress leader on Tuesday encouraged party MLAs in the BJP-ruled Gujarat to stay in contact with people in their areas and vociferously voice their grievances as means to earn voters’ trust, news agency PTI reported.

After speaking at a rally, Gandhi conducted a closed-door meeting with Congress MLAs in an auditorium in Dahod, Gujarat. In Gujarat, the former Congress president also met with the party’s tribal leaders at the same time.

Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA who won from Vadgam in Banaskantha district with Congress backing in 2017, also attended the conference.

Speaking to the reporters after meeting, Congress MLA Himmatsinh Patel said, “Rahulji asked all the MLAs to remain in constant touch with people. He told us that people will put trust in us if we fight for them and resolve their issues.”

According to senior Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar, Gandhi informed legislators that the party, which has been in opposition in Gujarat for more than two decades, will establish the next government by capturing 125 seats out of the total 182 (a target set by the state unit).

“He said the party will fight the elections on issues concerning farmers, youths, tribals and Scheduled Castes. Unemployment will also be a major issue in the ensuing polls. Rahulji also congratulated all the 64 sitting MLAs for being in the Congress despite the BJP’s tactics to break the party,” Parmar was quoted by PTI in its report.

The Congress’ Dalit MLA, Naushad Solanki, claimed Gandhi voiced concern about party members’ inability to persuade people about price hikes under BJP control and their negative impact on their lives.

“Though people are suffering a lot due to price rise, Rahulji said Congress workers were still lagging behind in creating that perception among the masses,” Solanki said.

According to Vimal Chudasama, a young Congress MLA from Wayanad, the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad invited legislators to share concerns region-wise, such as Saurashtra, north Gujarat, south Gujarat, and western Gujarat.

Mevani, who was also present at the meeting, said that Gandhi claimed that the Congress has a good chance of winning the Gujarat Assembly elections, which are scheduled for the end of the year, despite the fact that the party barely lost out on a majority in 2017.

The BJP held power in the last elections by gaining 99 seats, while the Congress won 77. Several Congress MLAs afterwards resigned and joined the BJP.

(With PTI Inputs)

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