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‘NaMo-RaGa face-off’ to fizzle out?

‘NaMo-RaGa face-off’ to fizzle out?
Rahul Gandhi is slated to have a packed schedule in campaigning for the Congress. The much-hyped ‘NaMo-RaGa face-off’ in the state could soon fizzle out.

The BJP announced his campaigning schedule, with former deputy prime minister LK Advani kick-starting the campaign on 21 April, where he will address meetings in Rannebennur and Davanagere.

Modi, despite recently establishing himself in the higher echelons of the BJP hierarchy in New Delhi, with Karnataka proving to be his first test outside Gujarat on the national stage, there is an element of doubt as to how much he is going to actively campaign in the state.

The internal strife within the BJP, which led to former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa leaving the party and forming his own political outfit, the Karanataka Janata Party (KJP), has resulted in losses that could seriously dent BJP’s chances for reelection.

In the last assembly elections, the projection of Yeddyyurappa as chief minister was seen as a crucial factor in wooing the influential Lingayat community, into voting for the party, that many claim took the party across the finishing line.

The ban on illegal mining in 2011 by the Supreme Court, along with the arrests of Bellary mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, has also taken away much of the BJP’s financial muscle, which played a key part in the assembly elections last time around.

The formation of the Badava Shramkia Raitha (Poor Working Farmer) party, headed by ex-BJP minister Sreeramulu, belonging to the Nayak community, who is close to the Bellary mining baron, could also cut into the BJP’s vote share.

The mining baron’s brother Somashekar Reddy, a sitting BJP MLA from Bellary, is more concerned with the release of his sibling than contesting this year’s assembly elections. He has openly supported Sreeramulu, though he is yet to officially disassociate himself with the BJP.

In such a political climate, it seems unlikely that Modi would campaign aggressively in the state. A loss for Modi, who is leading the charge in Karnataka, could dent his chances of being projected as BJP’s candidate for prime minister.


NARENDRA MODI SEEKS ‘SAFE’ CONSTITUENCIES TO CAMPAIGN


Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will campaign towards the end of this month in Karnataka, where his party, the BJP, hopes to be re-elected on 5 May.

Sources say that he has asked the party branch in Karnataka to identify nearly two dozen districts where it is strong and is likely to perform well.

The sources, who are close to the chief minister, say that he is determined not to rally for the BJP in ‘unsafe’ constituencies because if the party loses there, his image as the BJP’s most popular leader and resolute vote-getter will be dented.   

He will start his campaign on 28 April, sources said.

Modi is vying to be declared the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee.  An important ally of the BJP, Nitish Kumar, has said he will end his partnership with the BJP if that happens because Mr Modi is tainted by the Gujarat communal riots of 2002, which took place during his first term in office.

Criticism from Kumar and his Janata Dal (United), as well as detractors within the BJP, come amid a massive surge in Modi’s popularity which was powered by his third consecutive re-election in Gujarat in December.

Party cadres have been urging BJP’s top leaders to declare Modi its presumptive prime minister.

In Karnataka, Modi plans to tread carefully because the BJP is seeking a second round in office after a first term that was littered with corruption scandals and dissent among its senior most leaders.
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