Rahul rally sidelights

Rahul rally sidelights

Emotional connect

Gandhi remembered the connection his family has with Ballari. "I'll never forget how you embraced Sonia Gandhi and stood by her," Rahul said. "This is a connection I will remember for the rest of my life. Whenever you need me, you just have to say it and I'll be here," he told the audience.

Loud cheers for Singh, Nagendra

Former BJP MLA Anand Singh, who joined the Congress recently, got a rousing welcome when his name was announced. The crowd had the same response for Kudligi legislator B Nagendra, who was symbolically welcomed into the party by Gandhi. Nagendra will be formally inducted later. The two mining-accused leaders hold sway in Ballari district.

Ballari swing crucial

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge conjectured that the 2019 polls will be won by the party for which Ballari votes. "How Ballari swings will decide who will form the next government at the Centre," he said. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the Congress would win all nine Assembly segments in Ballari. "The BJP won't even win one and the JD(S) isn't even here," he said.

Ambareesh surprise

That actor and former minister M H Ambareesh showed up at the rally was a surprise. Ambareesh is known to have skipped party meetings, of late. Sources said this was his way of sending a message that he was not quitting the party.

Hegde not fit to be even GP member: CM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said firebrand Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde was a 'nalayaka,' who was unfit to be even a Gram Panchayat member. Siddaramaiah said this while referring to Hegde's remarks on changing the Constitution.