New Delhi: The Congress is unlikely to pitch General Secretary Rahul Gandhi against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the state's elections later in the year as the party is wary after the Uttar Pradesh election debacle.
Sources say that the Congress does not want a full-blown Modi vs Rahul war as Gujarat elections are expected to be dominated by local issues and the development work carried out by the Chief Minister in the state. Aggressive campaigning by central leaders including Rahul Gandhi is likely to prove counter productive as it will give a chance to Modi to target the UPA more prominently on corruption and slow economic growth.
Rahul will also continue to maintain his silence on major controversies affecting the party. Sources say although he will campaign in Gujarat, but will maintain a low profile and will campaign like any other Congress general secretary.
Sources say this is a part of Congress's strategy to minimise Rahul's exposure against Modi, considering it comes at a time when Rahul is being seen as Congress's potential Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 and Modi is being seen as BJP's potential candidate.
Sources say the Congress wants the Gujarat polls to be based on local issues and not a Rahul vs Modi face-off. The Congress also wants to play it safe with Rahul's youth membership drive failing and touching an all time low.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi is also likely to maintain a low profile during the campaigning for the Gujarat polls. Sonia's 'maut ka saudagar' remark against Modi during the 2007 Assembly elections is generally seen as a turning point which was used by the BJP to target Congress and win by a handsome margin.
Modi has been pitching his work done in Gujarat against the Congress-led UPA government's policy paralysis and lack of action to curb corruption. The Congress wants to make sure that the campaign is limited to local issues and is likely to target Modi's reported failure to carry all sections of the society. The party will use the recent judgements related to the 2002 Gujarat riots, which have seen several saffron leaders being jailed including a BJP MLA and Modi's close aide Maya Kodnani.