Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: Rahul Gandhi kicks off his campaign


BANGALORE: Travelling in a special bus, the national head of Congress, Rahul Gandhi has kicked off his campaign, which has been named Janashirvada Yatra, for the upcoming assembly polls in Karnataka. He is scheduled to address 2 public meetings and address a tribal rally today while touring Yadagiri, Raichur and Gulbarga districts in the Hyderabad Karnataka region of the state.


Accompanied by most state Congress stalwarts, like G Parameshwara (KPCC President), state CM Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress Legislature Party in Lok Sabha, he will also visit religious places like the Khwaja Bande Nawaz dargah and the Sharana Basaveshwara temple. While Mr. Gandhi was greeted with a rousing welcome at Sindhnur on Sunday, there was also a group of protesters who came up right in front of his bus carrying black flags.

Although the schedule for assembly elections is yet to be announced, Congress and BJP leaders  have locked horns repeatedly in the past few weeks, hurling accusations about corruption, development, law and order and safety of women. PM Narendra Modi was recently in Bangalore to campaign for his party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rahul Gandhi has made a trip to the state soon after, and has been taking potshots at the PM during his speeches. He said that the PM spoke for more than an hour in the Parliament but spoke only about the Congress and the past, instead of any substantial plans to take the country forward.

Calling Siddaramaiah govt. ‘scam-free’, Mr. Gandhi alleged, ‘You (Mr Modi) speak about corruption in Karnataka but (you are) silent about huge increase in business fortunes of Amit Shah's son Jay Shah.’ He also said that Modi has no solution for unemployment and farmers’ problems. Accusing the BJP of creating ‘world record in corruption’ when it was in power in the state last time, he said that the Siddaramaiah regime has been free of corruption. Urging the electorate to vote for the Congress, he also criticized Modi for his policies and said that the latter is driving India looking at the rear-view mirror, causing accidents like demonetization, GST (which he called Gabbar Singh Tax) and Rafale deal scam. He advised Modi to “learn from the Karnataka Chief Minister on how to drive by looking forward.”

It is proving to be a high-voltage drama between the Congress and BJP as the Congress is looking forward to retaining Karnataka in its kitty, while the BJP wants to win in that state to get a foothold in South India. The incumbent CM Siddaramaiah of Congress, who has been emphatically saying that he has delivered,  has been touring the state extensively, taking swipes at BJP leaders frequently, particularly Yogi Adityanath, CM of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, BJP national head, PM Modi and B S Yedyurappa, BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for Karnataka. Prof. Narendra Pani, National Institute of Advanced Sciences, said, ‘The interesting aspect of the election is that a local leader is taking on Modi’, which speaks volumes about Siddaramaiah’s stature in the state and in Congress party.

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