Campaign ends for LS polls in Karnataka

Campaign ends for LS polls in Karnataka

Campaign ends for LS polls in Karnataka

A high-octane campaign for the single-phase April 17 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, where both Congress and BJP are betting high in a fierce close contest, ended this evening.

Electioneering, at times fired up by vicious rants among polical leaders, saw intense campaign by both national as well as state bigwigs, for a sharply bipolar fight, in all the 28 constituencies barring six.

For BJP, hoping for a turnaround in its fortunes after its debacle in assembly polls last year, the biggest thrust to its campaign came from Narendra Modi whose blitzkrieg has generated the atmospherics it is looking for.

Congress' offensive was led mostly by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, for whom a lot is at stake, as he addressed more than 75 rallies crisscrosing the state, with party President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi providing the booster.

Siddaramaiah is looking at a target of about 20 of the 28 seats as that will act as a counter to any possible attempt within his party to undermine or destabilise his position.

He, however, maintains no quota has been set by the party top brass and it is a mere speculation that he would have to give up his post if he did not deliver on the 20-seat target.

Modi addressed 13 rallies in the last four months, 10 after he was declared the prime ministerial candidate, a blitzkrieg the state unit was looking for as Karnataka is its biggest hope in the South that could boost its national tally.

Notably, BJP veterans L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj gave a miss to the campaign with no convincing explanation from the state unit which merely said they were preoccupied elsewhere.

Observers note that Advani was not comfortable with the re-entry of B S Yeddyurappa into BJP and Swaraj with the admission of B Sriramulu, a one-time close associate of mining baron and former minister G Janardhana Reddy.

The triangular contest involving JD-S, apart from Congress and BJP, would be mostly in Hassan, Mysore, Mandya, Tumkur, Bangalore Rural and Chickkaballapur.

Modi dominated the scene and discourse, with Sonia and Rahul making him the focal point of their attack, as also state Congress leaders with a highly-spirited Siddaramaiah calling him a "narahantaka" (mass murderer).

After the Election Commission rapped him on his knuckles for his "narahantaka" remark, Siddaramaiah changed his description of Modi to "himsavadi" (votary of violence).

The discourse plumbed the depths when KPCC chief G Parameshwara taunted the JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda over his alleged remark in the past that he would consume poison if his party did not win assembly elections.

"....I am also waiting that he will take it (poision) today or tomorrow. He is not taking it," Parameshwara had said but regretted his controversial remarks a day later.

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejrival was on a single lap of campaign in Bangalore. AAP is aiming big contesting all the seats in Karnataka.

In a bitter script to BJP, a section of Kannada writers, including two Jnanpith awardees, U R Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad crossed swords with it over Modi, whom they bitterly opposed for prime ministership, calling him dictatorial. A livid BJP hit back calling them Congress "flatterers."

Star power fired up the election campaign with actresses Tara, Shruthi, Rakshita and actor Jaggesh campaigning for BJP.

Congress candidate in Mandya Ramya herself is a leading actress while her party was supported elsewhere by her colleagues Bhavya and Jaimala.

Prominent Telugu "power star" Pawan Kalyan campaigned for BJP in some parts. Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi held roadshows for his mother-in-law Nandini Alva, JD-S candidate from Bangalore central.

A myriad of national and local issues dominated the campaign. Apart from the common campaign denominator of price rise, civic issues relating to Bangalore, drinking water problem in parts of Karnataka, sugarcane pricing, unfinished railway projects, encroachment of forest land and the Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats which involves 11 districts in some way or the other with fears of loss livelihood and lack of development also figured during the campaign.

From traditional door-to-door canvassing and street corner meetings to resorting to flash mobs- a group of people who suddenly emerge in a public place and breaks out in dance or engage in some different activity for entertainment or satire-- candidates adopted different campaign styles.

New generation technologies like live streaming and Google hangout, digital raths equipped with audio and visual facilities, besides social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs were used by candidates to reach out to their voters.
A total of 435 candidates are in the fray with 4.62 crore electorate in the state.

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