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Rahul To Contest From Karnataka?

Updated: March 8, 2014 3:03 pm

AICC Vice President’s two-day tour of the Congress-ruled Karnataka evoked good response in terms of crowd

Is Rahul Gandhi going to contest from Mandya or any one of the constituency in Karnataka state?

This question became more vocal after the two-day whirl wind tour of AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi to the Congress-ruled Karnataka state on Saturday and Sunday. The question begged to be asked because he conducted a roadshow of about 130-kms from Tumkur to Mysore which criss-crosses the Vokkaliga-dominated Mandya parliamentary constituency.

The buzz around is that the BJP is not strong in this constituency and if the Congress can manage to have a clandestine understanding with HD Deve Gowda of the JD (S), then it can be a cake-walk for Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to face a stiff fight in North Indian states due to the BJP as well as the nascent yet lethal AAP.

Congress leadership was not willing to say on this issue, except that they welcomed their PM-candidate if he shows interest to contest from Karnataka. “Rahulji is our tallest leader after Sonia ji. He has galvanised the organisation by involving the youth and women in a big way. We would be very happy if Rahulji contests from any constituency of his choice in Karnataka,” RV Venkatesh, chief whip of the ruling party and an important functionary told Uday India. Venkatesh, a close confidante of AICC general secretary BK Hariprasad, has shouldered many responsibilities in the Youth Congress in the past.

But it is being said that Rahul’s decision to go on a roadshow in most of the areas of Mandya parliamentary constituency is to boost the prospects of sitting MP and actress Ramya, who might face some tough fight from JD (S), which is determined to wrest the seat from the Congress, which it lost in the by-elections. Otherwise, the tour of Rahul Gandhi in Karnataka evoked mixed response, though it can be fairly said that it was on the positive side. While the response of the ruralites who had thronged all along the Tumkur to Mysore route was more of a curiosity value, the students with whom he interacted were a little disappointed. “He had nothing concrete and meaningful to say. We do not know where he stands on various issues concerning the nation like unemployment, social divide, Maoism, terrorism, price rise, inflation, etc, etc. It is all hazy,” Nisha, a student of one of the college said.

During his two-day visit, Rahul addressed two rallies, one each in Belgaum—the Lingayat-dominated district headquarters bordering Maharashtra in Mumbai-Karnataka region and another in Tumkur, the district adjacent to Bengaluru, 70-kms from the state capital. In Tumkur, the AICC vice president addressed Mahila Samavesh, organised by Mahila Congress of the Karnataka unit.

As is its culture, the Congress had organised a roadshow from Kunigal in Tumkur district upto Mysore, along Bellur Cross, Nagamangala, Pandavapura, Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatna and culminated in Mysore. Rahul had nothing much to tell the women who had converged on the sprawling college grounds except harping on his pet theme of “empowering women” without mentioning what exactly he means by it and how he propose to achieve it. Except for the good crowd, which looks like they have been carted, there was no spontaneous response from the women, though the men in the crowd—who outnumbered women—cheered and shouted slogans in favour of Rahul Gandhi.

Common sense and presence of mind were conspicuous by their absence among the state Congress leaders. All that they could have done is to ask the men to move out of the area meant for women’s conference, as this was supposed to have been an all-woman conference. “It is true that the men would have accompanied the women from their respective districts but the local leaders ought to ensured that the men vacate the venue and only women are seen among the audience. The purpose of the Mahila Samavesh is defeated,” Kalavathi, one of the Mahila Congress worker said.

Realising the importance, reach, clout of the senior Congress leader and former chief minister SM Krishna in Mandya constituency, Rahul touched his feet at Maddur, the home-town of Krishna and sought his blessings. The workers went into ruptures at this gesture of Rahul. As it is the family’s culture and tradition starting from Nehru, Rahul broke the security cordon and went towards the people to shake hands with as many as possible.

From the countenances of the people, it was evident that the crowd had come to see Rahul, something of a curiosity value. To what extent this curiosity value will turn into votes is a matter to be keenly watched. In any case, Mandya is not a BJP bastion and AAP has no presence in this predominantly rural constituency. JD (S) which held the seat from 2009 lost it to Ramya, a charismatic Kannada actor, in the bye-elections. What added to the campaigning is the sympathy factor as her foster-father, RT Narayan died on the day Ramya filed her nomination papers for the bye-elections. But JD (S), whose social and geographical base is shrinking day by day, is determined to wrest the seat back from the Congress.

As a part of image-make over exercise, Rahul had a chat with selected editors of newspapers and TV channels in Bengaluru which was not opened to the media. This was a much-needed exercise, following his recent disastrous performance on a national TV channel, which demonstrated his intellectual hollowness, absence of elementary common sense and presence of mind being conspicuous by its absence.

In all Rahul criss-crossed as many as five parliamentary constituencies, Belgaum, Bengaluru city, Bengaluru Rural, Tumkur, Mandya and Mysore, which was the last port of call from where he took off to Delhi in a private chartered flight. KPCC president Dr G Parameshwar, who accompanied Rahul, all along the programmes, was elated. “All this talk of Rahul having no charishma is wrong. There is a strong pro-Rahul and pro-Congress under current among the people. I am sure this will manifest in a big way during the polling,” he told this correspondent.

By SA Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru

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