As the war of words between BJP president Amit Shah and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gets intense in the run up to the Karnataka polls, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has called a meeting of senior leaders to discuss the poll strategy for the State.
Lok Sabha MP and Congress’ Karnataka in-charge K.C. Venugopal confirmed that they were meeting in Delhi on Saturday.
Unlike Gujarat where the Congress did not have a chief ministerial face, the Congress would fight under the leadership of incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
“We have a solid leader there, a pro poor leader and we will win the election in Karnataka,” said a confident Mr. Gandhi on Monday during an interactive session with NRIs at Bahrain.
Karnataka key State
Karnataka is a key battle State for both the BJP and the Congress. While the BJP is looking for a comeback in the only south Indian State it had ever formed government, for the Congress it is the only State with economic and political clout where the party is in power.
Though the party won Punjab last year, Karnataka is considered among the top economic performers.
Retaining Karnataka will be a big morale booster for the Congress in the run up to the battle for 2019 while for the BJP, the State could play an important part to shed it’s image of being a predominantly Hindi belt party.
Even before parties devise their poll strategies, a bitter war of words has already broken out.
On Tuesday, at a rally in Chitradurga district, Mr. Shah claimed that the State government was “anti-Hindu” as it had withdrawn cases against the Social Democratic Party of India, the political wing of the Popular Front of India, a hardline Islamic organisation.
Earlier, the BJP had also strongly objected to the Karnataka government observing November 10 as Tipu Jayanti in memory of the former Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.
While the Congress Chief Minister described him as the first freedom fighter and the tiger of Mysore in a tweet, the BJP in Karnataka described him as a religious bigot and alleged that the Congress was resorting to Muslim appeasement.
To counter such allegations, Mr. Gandhi is reportedly going to continue with his public temple visits, a strategy that might have worked for the Congress during the Gujarat polls.
Source: The Hindu