In the run-up to the Karnataka assembly elections, neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party has left any stone unturned. Both parties have ensured that their star leaders -- Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and BJP’s Narendra Modi -- campaign in the state.
Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat and the ruling BJP’s trump card, has addressed two major rallies in Bengaluru and Mangalore.
The party is hopeful that Modi’s charisma has worked in the party’s favour in these two cities and their neighbouring areas.
The Congress, on the other hand, is quite buoyant about its chances in the election. The party has also expressed satisfaction with Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign in the state.
But the fact remains that many people in the state’s rural areas attend Rahul’s rallies out of sheer curiosity -- to catch a glimpse of the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Gandhi has tried his best to quell the rebellion threatening to tear apart the state unit of the party. During his speeches, he exhorted senior leaders of the party to stay united. But his efforts don’t seem to have made much headway.
The animosity between party leaders was evident during Gandhi’s rally in Mandya, where Congress candidate Ambareesh refused to share the dais with senior party leader S M Krishna.
It is a known fact that Krishna and Ambareesh do not get along at all and the former external affairs minister has refused to campaign for the popular actor.
Peeved with the fact that Krishna was on stage, Ambareesh refused to address the gathering despite desperate pleas by local Congress leaders. Finally, the actor’s wife Sumalatha had to speak on his behalf.
Ambareesh has denied reports of a rift and claimed that he did not share the dais with Gandhi and Krishna to avoid the hawk eye of the state Election Commission.
The EC would have noted his presence on the stage and added the entire expenditure of the rally -- Rs 50 lakh -- to his election expenses, says the actor.
The Congress’s cup of woes will continue overflowing even after the elections are over.
If the party fails to win a simple majority, it will have to broker a deal with another party and adhere to its demands.
If the party does manage a decisive win, it will have to witness a fight for the chief minister’s post between senior Congress leaders G Parameshwar and Siddaramaiah.
In case the party’s top leadership fails to peacefully resolve the feud for the top post, the Congress’s Karnataka unit will definitely end up splitting in two warring factions and land in a worse state than the perpetually bickering state BJP unit.
For now, the Congress is putting up a brave front and claiming that issues of dissidence can be sorted out.
“The rallies by Rahul Gandhi have done wonders for us. There is no need to make a big deal over small issues which are part of every party,” said state Congress chief G Parameshwar.
Taking a swipe at the rival party, he said, “The BJP says that Modi has changed their fortunes but he cannot cover up what the party has done in Karnataka”.