BJP-Cong Battle to Play Out in Karnataka
Amit Shah, Rahul arrive in the state on the same day, to kick-start poll campaign soon
Bengaluru: The BJP and Congress are shifting the election battle ground to Karnataka, with their national leaders Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi arriving in the state within hours of each other on Saturday to step up their campaigns for the 2018 state assembly polls.
While Shah’s visit to Karnataka to brainstorm was announced about a month ago, Gandhi shifted his programme to address a mass rally in Raichur, in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, from August 4 to August 13, following the death of former chief minister N Dharam Singh, who hails from the region.
“It is just coincidental that both Shah and our leader are coming on the same day, but it certainly heats up the tempo in the state,” a Congress office-bearer said.
The political mood in Karnataka is currently very heightened, particularly because the state’s Congress unit played a role in ensuring the nail-biting victory of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, which Shah and the BJP had done their best to avert. “We feel a moral victory over the BJP. And our CM Siddaramaiah has also stepped up the pace of our campaign, so we are currently on a high,” the office-bearer told ET.
The BJP mood is a bit low, though the party leaders expect Shah’s three-day visit to change that. “There has been a lot of infighting and bit- terness within our state unit, though all the leaders have publicly said that they are united. There is resentment over various issues and though our vistarak programme has been a success in terms of spreading our message, the feedback is that the public is unhappy with the infighting,” a BJP leader admitted.
Shah is holding a whole series of meetings including one with intellectuals and public figures from various walks of life on how to improve the party’s prospects. He will also meet the top Vokkaliga pontiff of the Adichunchunagiri mutt, who has enormous clout in South Karnataka and Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living, besides hold talks with OBC and SC/ST leaders and partyworkers from the 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka that the BJP lost in 2014.