A huge campaign blitz by the BJP marked the last day of campaigning for the Karnataka elections. 52 roadshows across the state were held by a huge team of BJP leaders including the BJP president Amit Shah, two chief minsters of the party, 19 Union ministers, and 12 other senior leaders.
This did not go unnoticed by Congress president Rahul Gandhi who raised the issue at a press conference on Thursday: “This is a fight between the spirit of Karnataka and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and we are very clear we don’t want a barrage of leaders from outside the state to come and fight for us.”
The campaign for the Karnataka assembly elections has been a bitter one between the ruling Congress in the state and the main opposition party, the BJP. While the Congress has used “outsiders” in the campaign which included Rahul; and even his mother Sonia Gandhi, the main campaign was mostly depended on the incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah.
In contrast, the BJP left nothing to chance as it pulled out its star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amti Shah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, and a host of cabinet ministers. The chief ministerial candidate of the party, B S Yeddyurappa, has not been as visible in the campaign, possibly because he is held responsible for the BJP’s loss in 2013 following his temporary departure from the party.
And even though Modi was not around in Karnataka physically on the last day of the campaign, he was present in the ether waves, delivering BJP workers in Karnataka advice on treating Dalits, through his Na Mo app. Earlier during the campaign, Modi had held 21 rallies – through he was originally scheduled to hold 15, in Karnataka between May 1 and May 9.
Rahul Gandhi was also not left much behind, holding 17 rallies in 10 days. He also expressed in desire to becoming the prime minister if the party managed to get the requisite mandate in 2019, during the course of an interaction in Bengaluru on May 8.
Modi had taken note of that comment and as he used the Naamdaar-Kaamdaar (dynast, worker) distinction which he had used during this campaign.
Rahul replied to an earlier criticism by the BJP about his mother’s nationalism on Thursday and said that his mother was more Indian than many Indians he knows. “She is more Indian than many people I have seen. She has sacrificed and suffered for this country and it shows the quality of the prime minister when he makes these comments. I’m happy to let him be if he enjoys himself.”
He also called Modi an angry man (and himself a lightning rod for anger) on the last day of campaigning in Karnataka.
There were also show of confidence about the outcome of the elections by both sides. While Rahul Gandhi said that the BJP was “in panic”, in a tweet Shah said that “the writing on the wall is clear; It’s time for BJP with absolute majority in Karnataka.”
Most of the opinion polls for the May 12 elections have predicted a hung parliament post the May 15 counting while also indicating the Congress would emerge as the single largest party. Opinion polls have also touted the Janata Dal (Secular) of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, to be the king maker in the forthcoming assembly of the state.
(Adapted Hindustan Times)