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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sowmya.Aji@ times­group.com

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.

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