Padayatra politics to begin next week

The State Congress on Wednesday finalised its plan to involve leaders and workers from all its 33 “political districts” during the 15-day “Bellary Chalo” padayatra scheduled to commence from July 25 in support of their demand for a CBI probe into illegal mining in the State.

A BJP office-bearers meeting scheduled to be held in Bangalore the same day (July 25) is likely to take a final decision on whether to give the party’s nod to the padayatra announced by the Reddy brothers of Bellary.

The Reddys’ padayatra plans –– to counter Congress’ agitation –– has already been met with stiff opposition by a large section in the BJP itself. The mining tycoons’ yatra is seen as a show of their strength to the Chief Minister rather than sending a message to the Opposition.

B L Shankar, who is in the strategy team of the Congress’ padayatra, said everyday party leaders, legislators, panchayat members and workers from two districts would join the rally. And when the yatra concludes in Bellary, the party leaders of all districts would be present. The party plans to rope in a few central leaders during weekends. But so far the party is unaware whether any senior leader would be walking from Bangalore to Bellary.

The 320-km Congress padayatra will commence from Freedom Park in Bangalore at 8 am on July 25 and culminate with a rally at Bellary on August 9. The Congress workers, are planning to cover an average of 20 km a day.

The rally will start at 8 am each day, with a break between 12 noon and 3 pm, and conclude at 7 pm. Public meetings will be held at Nelamangala, Tumkur, Hiriyur, Sira, Challakere, Molakalmuru and several others places along the route.

No mood

At the other end of the political spectrum, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and State President K S Eshwarappa are not in favour of the ruling party venturing out on a counter padayatra to take on the Opposition.

Moreover, the Reddy brothers have apparently not even consulted the party leadership before going public with their padayatra plans. Minister B Sriramulu is to lead a rally from Bellary to culminate at Mysore - the home ground of Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah. The Reddys are hoping to get the yatra inaugurated by their mentor Sushma Swaraj.

Minister Renukacharya and legislator Belur Gopalakrishna, once closely identified with the Reddy camp, on Wednesday openly expressed their reservation to the padayatra.

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