Karnataka polls: As Rahul Gandhi visits Yeddyurappa bastion, BJP’s poser – Who’s your CM candidate?

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Bengaluru | Published: April 3, 2018 1:53:32 PM

Karnataka is the only state where the Congress party is in power. The party lost all assembly elections except in Punjab since 2014 general elections. The southern state will go to polls in single-phase on may 12. Results will be declared on May 15.

karnataka, Congress, Rahul Gandhi, Karnataka Assembly polls, BJPRahul Gandhi is on a two-day Karnataka visit from today

With Karnataka Assembly polls around the corner, political parties ranging from the ruling Congres, opposition BJP to the JDS are fielding their top leaders to campaign across the state to establish a direct link with the people. Leading the charge for the Congress, which is battling anti-incumbency, is party president Rahul Gandhi. On Tuesday, Rahul arrived in Karnataka on a two-day visit as part of the party’s Jana Aashirwada Yatre in the poll-bound state. As per the schedule, Rahul will hold two public meetings in Shimoga and Davangere. Tomorrow, the Congress’ Karnataka unit said, Rahul will visit Chitradurga, Tumakuru and Ramanagara districts.

His arrival in Shimoga, the hometown of BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, is significant in the backdrop of BJP president Amit Shah’s mega roadshow here on March 26 to garner support in favour of BSY. On his visit here, Rahul will address a rally and later hold a public contact programme. During his brief stay here, Rahul will also inaugurate a district office of the party.

Ahead of his visit, the Bharatiya Janata Party has posed an awkaward question for Rahul. Taking to Twitter, former Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda took a wipe Rahul Gandhi over the Congress’ reluctance in announcing the party’s CM candidate.

“The BJP has reiterated that its CM candidate is BS Yeddyurappa. In the Congress house, there are three doors. Dr G Parameshwara is in the first door, Mallikarjun Kharge tripped over the second door after his son announced his aspiration and from the third door, Siddaramaiah has said he will be the CM. Rahul speak the truth, who will be the Congress’ CM candidate?” Gowda said on Twitter.

The former Union minister’s caustic remark is being seen as a jibe at the Congress following Siddaramaiah’s statement on the matter on Monday. When asked who will be the Congress’ pick as the CM in the event of the party’s win in the elections, Siddaramaiah said “anyone can dream of becoming a Chief Minister.” His remark followed a number of leaders throwing in their hat in the ring.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, is also being seen as one of the probables. “I won’t go against the party’s wishes. But as a son, I wish to see my father as the CM of this state. We are the party’s loyal soldiers, we will do what our party wishes,” The News Minute quoted his son Priyank as saying on Sunday.

Meanwhile, on his visit to Karnataka, Rahul will on Wednesday visit Lingayat stronghold Holalkere in Chitradurga district. He will then visit Tumakuru where he is expected to call on 111-yr-old seer of Siddaganga Mutt Shivakumara Swamy. The visits are being seen with an eye on the Congress’ move to recognise Lingayatism as a separate religion. The decision needs Centre’s consent, thus putting the ball in the BJP’s court.

The move could be Congress party’s attempts to woo the electorate in a fashion similar to what it had tried in Gujarat last year. The party had joined ranks with several small factions belonging to different castes, in a bid to hurt the BJP, and did succeed to some extent.

Rahul Gandhi will be visiting the state again later this week, this time to travel to the capital Bengaluru where he will hold a mega rally. Polling in the southern state will be held in single phase on May 12 while results will be declared on May 15. The Karnataka Assembly has 224 members. The tenure expires on May 30.

Karnataka is the only big state where the Congress party is in power. After 2014 general elections, the party, lost all assembly polls except in Punjab. This election is crucial in many aspects for the Congress. Besides setting the agenda for the upcoming assembly elections in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the party sees this an opportunity to regain people’s faith ahead of the all-important 2019 general elections.

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