View from India: Congress Party president campaigns in Bangalore

It is believed that number eight is associated with ambition, authority and efficiency. The numeric also carries the assurance that one will reap what is sown. If this is any indicator of things to come, then it probably sums up the intent of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Bangalore on 8 April, 2018.

Gandhi began his sixth leg of campaigning in Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka. The state is all set to go to polls, as the Legislative Assembly Elections will be held on 12 May, with the results to be announced on 15 May. Congress is in power in Karnataka, so as the state prepares for the elections it’s crucial for the Congress chief to set foot here.

Gandhi has been rallying in several parts of Karnataka during the last one-and-a-half months, beginning his campaign with Ballari. Incidentally, that’s where his mother Sonia Gandhi was elected to the Lok Sabha (national Parliament) in 1999.

Over the last few weeks, the dimpled leader has covered nearly 2,000km and mapped 25 out of the 30 districts in the state. The campaign has probably never been complete without a temple visit. Apart from that, he’s done extensive road shows, conducted meetings and given public speeches to garner public support. Earlier in the month, he visited the state to firm up the list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls. This list is expected to be ready by 15 April.

So it’s understandable that the Janashirvadha Yatra, which is a Congress initiative, culminated in Bangalore on 8 April (the word ‘Yatra’ means ‘journey’ or ‘pilgrimage’ and is also applied to political demonstrations). The highpoint of the event was a massive public rally to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi. Multiple media sources note that Gandhi interacted with the media, business community and amidst traffic snarls began the public meeting in the evening on a mega scale at the Palace Grounds.

Here are some snapshots of his speech delivered at various places, each time to a different audience. He has expressed confidence of roping in and managing alliance partners. While interacting with sanitary workers, he learnt that their expectation from the new government over the next five years is to be regularised.

Earlier in the day, the Congress president has assured the gathering that they will draft a national manifesto of the Congress party over the next few months, and that the party is encouraging young leadership. Rahul Gandhi also felt that entrepreneurs, even the small ones could contribute meaningfully to country’s growth and economy at large. Hence it’s imperative for the government to give them the much required support. Nevertheless, he pointed out that large and small industries called for a different kind of structure.

On a lighter note, Gandhi, accompanied by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and party leaders, hopped on to the Metro, much to the surprise of the weekend commuters and sportingly obliged many of them with selfies. He even browsed around at a bookstore in the Metro station.

Meanwhile Siddaramaiah has announced that he will contest from the Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore, and drew attention to the fact that this constituency gave him political birth.

Whether it’s the Congress party or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both national parties see potential in Karnataka. The state has a bountiful to offer, in terms of information technology, skilled manpower and industrial output. It’s no surprise that the BJP had launched a 75-day pre-election rally titled ‘Parivartan Yatra,’ which mapped all the 224 Assembly constituencies. VFI had reported the same in February 2018.

We will have to wait and watch for the grand political drama to unfold next month.

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