Congress to campaign hard in State to blunt Modi effect

To conduct booth-level awareness programmes and public rallies

The Narendra Modi factor seems to be worrying the State Congress, with the party’s executive committee on Saturday deciding to launch a vigorous campaign to counter the Gujarat chief minister’s influence over the State’s electorate ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The meeting, attended by senior State leaders like Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief G Parameshwara and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, resolved to conduct booth-level awareness campaigns and public rallies at all Assembly constituencies to educate people about Modi’s “divisive” politics. All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijay Singh, however, did not attend the meeting.

Modi is scheduled to address nine public rallies in the State starting with Bangalore on November 16. The Congress leaders are worried that the Modi factor might damage the party’s electoral prospects in the State if precautionary measures are not taken.

This has prompted Parameshwara and Siddaramaiah, who were at loggerheads until recently, to bury the hatchet, at least till the parliamentary elections. Leaders of both factions made it a point to present a united front in the executive committee meeting.

Efforts to break a truce had begun a couple of days ago. In Saturday’s meeting, both leaders not only presented a picture of unity, but also avoided controversial issues like minister Santosh Lad’s alleged role in illegal mining.

Senior leaders said at the meeting that Modi’s divisive politics was dangerous. The RSS was running Modi’s campaign with assistance of some corporate houses, they said. As Modi has been highlighting scams during the UPA regime, the party should communicate to the people that all what Modi speaks is not the truth, the leaders added. Briefing reporters, Parameshwara, however, said the party was not worried about anything.

“The BJP is trying to glorify Modi. They don’t have anything else. But we have decided to counter him (Modi) appropriately. We will not only highlight the goods works of the Union government, but also tell the people that the BJP’s allegations are not true,” he said.

Asked about some pre-poll surveys predicting only seven of the 28 State Lok Sabha seats for the Congress, he said the party was not worried about numbers. “The surveys give their numbers but we are concentrating on all 28 seats and definitely we will win the maximum numbers of seats,” Parameshwara said.

Even the chief minister brushed aside the Modi factor. “Modi is not a force at all in Karnataka. We have also seen the BJP being routed in the last Assembly elections. He is no threat to us,” he said. “The BJP is a spent force in the State.”

Parameshwara also said the executive committee has decided to announce the candidate list for the elections by December. He said Siddaramaiah has promised to set up various taluk and district-level committees like the “Ashraya Samiti” and the APMC in a month.

Regarding appointment of heads to various boards and corporations, the chief minister said he would soon discuss the matter with the party high command.

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