news Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 05:30
   Kerala Congress president VM Sudheeran on Tuesday said the party rank and file were quite gung-ho over the two-day visit of party vice president Rahul Gandhi to the southern state starting Tuesday.   "All top leaders have arrived here to be with Rahul Gandhi during his meetings with a cross-section of people, including representatives of farmers and fishermen," Sudheeran told IANS.    Sudheeran said the "Rahul effect" seen at the Kissan rally in Delhi last month has certainly given the Congress the much-needed impetus, after its poor performance in the last Lok Sabha elections.    "Not only has he been at his best since his return, be it in parliament or taking up a wide range of issues, but also the confidence level of an average Congress worker has gone up by leaps and bounds. This is visible in Kerala too, not only among the rank and file but also across all levels in our party," said Sudheeran, who was handpicked by Gandhi last year to head the state party unit.    The Gandhi scion will arrive here later in the day and address a rally organised by the Youth Congress. On Wednesday morning, he will address fisherfolk at the Chavakad beach in Thrissur district.    "We see his address to the fisherfolk as very crucial since this particular community has moved slightly away from us for some reasons. We are confident that we will be able to prevail upon this community to support us. We have already taken them into confidence, and the party has been working towards this end under party MLA T.N. Prathapan," added Sudheeran.    Asked to comment on Gandhi's upcoming address, one in a group of fishermen at Chavakad beech said, "We are delighted that a national leader is coming to speak to us and hear us."   Gandhi is also slated to hold discussions on Wednesday with leaders of various farmer organisations, especially rubber cultivators from near Kochi.    Former defence minister A.K. Antony told IANS that he was in Kozhikode to give Gandhi company during his visit.    "We are all waiting to hear him speak at the three meetings he will attend," said Antony.    Meanwhile, the Congress leadership is viewing Gandhi's visit as the launch of the party campaign for the local bodies' elections expected to take place in October/November.    Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will also accompany Gandhi. 
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