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BJP, Congress to go all guns blazing for Karnataka polls

DH News Service, Bengaluru, Jan 9 2018, 0:56 IST
For the Congress, Karnataka is one of the last major states where it is in power whereas the BJP hopes to extend its winning streak from Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to Karnataka. PTI file photo.

For the Congress, Karnataka is one of the last major states where it is in power whereas the BJP hopes to extend its winning streak from Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to Karnataka. PTI file photo.

BJP national president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi will virtually take over election management of their respective parties in Karnataka as the arch rivals brace for a tough fight ahead of the crucial Assembly polls.

Post Sankranti, both Shah and Rahul are expected to deploy key resources to devise a poll strategy in the state. The 2018 Assembly election is a high-stakes battle for both parties. For the Congress, Karnataka is one of the last major states where it is in power whereas the BJP hopes to extend its winning streak from Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to Karnataka.

Rahul has convened a meeting of the state party leaders on January 13 in Delhi, following which teams representing key cells - communications, social media and research - will camp in Karnataka. AICC communications wing convenor Priyanka Chaturvedi and AICC research wing chief Rajeev Gowda have already arrived in Bengaluru. AICC social media head Ramya, too will jump into the action soon. All India Professionals Congress chief Shashi Tharoor will also work in the state ahead of the polls. Rahul's own poll strategy team is expected to arrive in Bengaluru closer to the polls, sources said.

In the case of BJP, from February-March till the completion of the polls, a 40-member team of Amit Shah and his trusted lieutenants will descend on Bengaluru to finalise the party's strategy. Starting next month, Shah himself will tour the state extensively to gain command over details, a top BJP functionary said.

Shah is an expansionist unlike his predecessors, party insiders said. His core team comprises key strategists such as Bhupendra Yadav, a Rajya Sabha member known for his acumen to implement election strategy who prefers to work from the party's war room. Yadav is likely to be made in-charge of "page pramukh" initiative of the BJP.

The team also has Arun Singh, BJP national general secretary known for his organisational skills; Om Mathur, who enjoys Prime Minister Narendra Modi's confidence, is said to have prepared the groundwork for a 25-0 clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections in his home state Rajasthan; BJP national general secretary (organisation) Ramlal is the link between the party and the RSS. He is likely to monitor all organisational affairs and ensure coordination with various Sangh affiliates. They will be assisted by a battery of dedicated party functionaries, sources said.

Congress MP Rajeev Gowda said his research department will work closely with the party's communications and social media teams. "We are the munitions factory," he said. "We will take up studies on what our government here has done. In other states, we were in the opposition and our research focus was different. Here, we are in power, so our work will be different," Gowda said.

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