With the BJP’s expectations on surging ahead of the Congress in an ostensibly tight contest in Karnataka resting on him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to embark on a whirlwind tour of the state next week in the last leg of campaigning. He is likely to address more than a dozen rallies in five days, sources said on Monday.
Sources said although a tentative schedule has been prepared for 15 rallies, Modi is likely to spend less time at each place compared to his election rallies in the past. “That’s because his official work schedule is too tight to accommodate more rallies or time,” said a party leader.
According to the tentative schedule prepared by the PMO, Modi is expected to address three rallies on May 1 in Chamarajnagar, Udupi and Belagavi, followed by rallies in Gulbarga, Ballari and Bengaluru on May 3.
On May 5, he is scheduled to visit Tumkur, Shivamogga and Hubbali, and he is expected to be in Raichur, Chitradurga and Kolar on May 7, according to the tentative schedule. On May 8, two days before campaigning winds up, Modi may address public rallies in Vijayapura, Mangaluru and Bengaluru, party leaders said.
BJP leaders asserted that the party will get a clear edge over the Congress once Modi starts campaigning.
With various opinion polls suggesting a tight race in Karnataka, the BJP has put all its might in the campaign. On Wednesday, almost all party general secretaries — including Muralidhar Rao, the party’s Karnataka in-charge, Ram Madhav, Bhupendra Yadav and Arun Singh — and national spokespersons were in Karnataka.
Besides Modi and Shah, others who will address rallies in the state are Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Ravi Shankar Prasad, and BJP CMs Yogi Adityanath and Devendra Fadnavis, among others.
Anti-incumbency against the Congress government being its main focus, the BJP is also highlighting issues of rural distress and lawlessness. To counter Siddaramaiah’s emphasis on AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits), BJP leaders, including Shah, have accused the state government of being “Ahindu” (non-Hindu or anti-Hindu). This criticism came when the Congress tried to break the BJP’s committed support base in the Lingayat community by recommending religious minority status for Lingayats and Veershaiva Lingayats.