Fellow passenger Rudrappa, a farmer, quips that the central BJP leaders are unable to connect with the public due to the language barrier.
As the Karnataka poll battle hots up, people of the state are busy talking about their favourite party candidates even as many raised doubts over the apparent “sidelining” of BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa this election. Standing in the sweltering summer heat, 45-year-old Shantappa is waiting for a bus to Shikaripura. The unrelenting weather, however, could not stop him from discussing the upcoming state assembly elections with fellow passengers. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he says, “It looks like our leader (Yeddyurappa) has been sidelined. He is not in his original form in this elections…I have heard he is not sharing stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in most rallies”.
Fellow passenger Rudrappa, a farmer, quips that the central BJP leaders are unable to connect with the public due to the language barrier. “The other day, one of my relatives in northern Karnataka attended a rally, but came back disappointed as he could not understand the speech in Hindi,” he says. Another passenger Keshava, a BJP supporter, interjects and says the same goes with the Congress. He argues that Kannadigas cannot connect with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and other party central leaders. The bus driver, who do not wish to be identified, says political rallies are simply “political gimmicks”. “People are asked to shout slogans of ‘Modi Modi’ and ‘Rahul Rahul’.
These are political gimmicks,” he says. The driver was quick to add, “Yeddyurappa, a political heavyweight that he is, knows how to win elections if given full freedom.Yeddyurappa is a mass leader. BJP chief Amit Shah has said that the party is important and not the person. That does not work in Karnataka though”. A lawyer observes that the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate was not giving any befitting reply to the ruling government’s charges against him. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is repeating his speech at every place, mentioning about Yeddyurappa’s jail stint and the Saubhagya welfare schemes, but the BJP’s CM candidate is not giving a befitting reply to him, he says.
“Probably his health is not permitting him to campaign the way he used to do earlier. Otherwise, there is no reason for him to be silent,” he adds. When asked about the “fading glory” of 75-year-old Yeddyurappa, Gurumurthy, caretaker of Shikaripura constituency, says, “He has not been sidelined at all. These are fake reports. He is in his ‘full form’, else he would not have undertaken the padayatra for 85 days, covering all 224 constituencies just before the election campaign. “We got 20 days to campaign after the filing of nominations. Since he is the state party president, he had to be a part of the candidate selection process. Therefore, he could not campaign during the first one week,” Gurumurthy, who is also the district BJP general secretary, says.
“Now that the election campaign has started, Yeddyurappa is touring four constituencies on a daily basis,” he says. “Also, the central party chief has told mass leaders to campaign separately in the state as less time is left to cover the major constituencies,” he says. The BJP leader also addressed the reports of Yeddyurappa not sharing stage with the prime minister or party chief Amit Shah. “Yeddyurappa sharing stage with PM or Amit Shah is not important, winning the election is important for us,” Gurumurthy says.
Yeddyurappa has not visited his constituency in last five years, still the party workers are working hard to ensure that the Lingayat leader wins with 50,000 votes margin in the upcoming state polls, he adds. Gurumurthy, an RSS worker from Sagar taluk, has been working as coordinator in Shikaripura for last 35 years. Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 to elect the 224-member assembly. The results for the same will be declared on May 15.