Rahul Gandhi to hold first rally in Jharkhand on Monday

New Delhi (IANS) Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is set to kickstart his campaign in the ongoing Jharkhand Assembly elections with a rally in Simdega district on Monday.

The rally, coming two days after the first of the five-phase polling, is scheduled at at 1.30 p.m. at Bazartand Ground, College Road in Simdega.

A party leader said that Rahul Gandhi will address one rally in each of the four remaining phases – on December 7, 12, 16 and 20. The Congress has released the list of 40 star campaigners which also include interim party chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as it does not want to repeat the mistake it made in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly polls, where its lacklustre approach cost the party dear.

Contesting the Assembly polls in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress is fighting 31 out of 81 seats in the state. The JMM is contesting 43 and the RJD the other seven.

JMM leader and former Chief Minister Hemant Soren is the alliance’s Chief Ministerial face.

The ruling BJP is campaigning aggressively with Prime Minister Narendra Modi its main campaigner, while Union Home Minister and BJP President Amit Shah and several other senior BJP leaders have also addressed rallies in the state.

In the 2014 assembly elections, the JMM, Congress and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha had formed an alliance. However, the JVM has moved away this time.

The Congress-JMM have aligned with the RJD this time.

In the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 37 seats, its then alliance partner, All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) five, while the JMM got 19, the Congress took six, and the JVM had eight. The six remaining seats were won by other parties. The BJP and the AJSU are contesting separately this time.

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