Cong gets emotional as bypoll campaign kicks off 

Cong gets emotional as bypoll campaign kicks off 

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The Congress gained the first-mover advantage as it launched its byelection campaign from the Hoskote Assembly constituency on Saturday, with a roadside pandal serving as a platform for the party’s poll bugle to be sounded. 

The ‘Swabhimana Samavesha’ (convention of self-esteem) organised in the Hoskote town set the tone for the party’s bypolls campaign - a mix of emotions ranging from anger to disappointment, with a sense of hope somewhere in between. The party will hold similar conventions in all constituencies of the disqualified MLAs. 

In the scorching heat and levitating road dust, the party made an emotional appeal with voters, accusing disqualified legislator MTB Nagaraj of betraying their trust. Nagaraju defected despite hectic efforts by the party leadership to keep him within. 

“We made him a minister. What else did he want? He took everything from the party and betrayed us at the end,” said Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, who attracted the most cheers from a fitful crowd the party had managed to bring together. 

The former chief minister took a jibe at his bete noire, H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) whose son Nikhil lost from Mandya in the Lok Sabha polls. “What happened in Mandya? Sumalatha sought votes in the name of self-esteem. Did she have money? Didn’t she win? People of Mandya didn’t sell themselves for money. Likewise, Nagaraj is living a lie if he thinks he can buy himself votes,” he said. 

Former minister Krishna Byre Gowda said Nagaraj had been doling out goodies in Hoskote in the form of sarees, bedsheets and coupons. “And he has said that he will throw Rs 4,000 per vote, up from Rs 2,000 earlier. But the people of Hoskote are swabhimaanis.

'Stop fielding rich candidates'

Former Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, whose decision to disqualify Nagaraj and 16 other ‘rebels’ has caused the bypolls, embarrassed the leadership on stage when he said the party should stop giving tickets based on how rich the candidates are. “Don’t give tickets looking at assets and money,” Kumar said. “Maybe, if a poor man had been fielded instead of Nagaraj, we’d not be in this situation today.” Nagaraj was one of Karnataka’s richest MLAs with declared assets worth over Rs 1,000 crore. “What good are your assets now as a disqualified MLA,” Kumar asked. Kumar is expected to figure prominently in the party's bypoll campaign so as to tell voters, in his inimitable style, why he disqualified their MLAs.

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