Campaigning for first phase of LS polls in Karnataka ends

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Bengaluru, Apr 24 (PTI) Campaigning for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka going to polls in the first phase on April 26, came to an end on Wednesday.

A total of 247 candidates -- 226 men and 21 women -- are in the fray for the first round of voting in most of the southern and coastal districts, where an estimated over 2.88 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 30,602 polling stations on Friday.

It is a straight electoral contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) combine in the state.

While the Congress is contesting in all 14 seats, BJP has fielded nominees in 11, and its alliance partner JD(S) in three -- Hassan, Mandya and Kolar.

Besides the three, the segments where elections will be held on Friday are: Udupi-Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South and Chikkballapur.

Of these 14 segments, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress and JD(S), which were in alliance and ruling the state then, had secured one seat each, while the BJP had won in 11 and had ensured the victory of a party supported independent candidate in Mandya.

Having scored a thumping victory in the Assembly elections, which witnessed a triangular fight between the Congress, BJP and JD(S) in May last year, the ruling party now appears determined to put up a strong show.

Karnataka is the most important state for the BJP in south India as it's only here that it had held power in the past.

The intense campaigning in the last few days saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah leading from the front for the BJP, holding rallies and roadshows. BJP President J P Nadda, some union ministers and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant too pitched in.

Veteran BJP leader and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and the party's state president B Y Vijayendra also campaigned extensively.

Congress president M Mallikarjun Kharge, senior leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy D K Shivakumar and Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy were among the prominent ones who led the charge for the party.

And for the JD(S), it was the 90-year-old party patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy in the forefront.

Chikkaballapur has a maximum number of 29 candidates, followed by 24 in Bangalore Central and Dakshina Kannada has the least number - nine.

Kumaraswamy from Mandya, his brother-in-law and noted cardiologist C N Manjunath from Bangalore Rural on a BJP ticket, erstwhile Mysuru royal family scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar from Mysore, also from the BJP, and state Congress President Shivakumar's brother and MP D K Suresh from Bangalore Rural, are among the prominent candidates in the fray in the first phase.

On the last day of campaigning too, top leaders made vigorous efforts to woo the voters.

While Yediyurappa campaigned for the party candidate from Tumkur, V Somanna, Kumaraswamy held a roadshow in Mandya. Deve Gowda held a press conference in Bengaluru and Shivakumar campaigned for his brother Suresh in Kanakapura.

"We will win all 28 seats. So, the 14 seats which are going to polls in the first phase, we will hundred per cent win all of them," Yediyurappa said in Tumakuru (Tumkur).

Shivakumar expressed confidence about Congress coming to power at the Centre.

Highlighting the Congress government's guarantee schemes, in Kanakapura, he sought support for his brother. "Congress government has to come to power at the Centre, you have to bring it to have to cooperate so that you can enjoy the benefits of the guarantee schemes." The campaign saw a "showdown" between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Modi ka guarantee" and Chief Minister Siddaramiah-led Congress government's guarantees.

The recent bomb blast at a popular eatery here, the raising of "pro-Pakistan" slogans in the corridors of 'Vidhana Soudha', murder of student Neha Hiremath at her college campus in Hubballi, and alleged deterioration of law and order situation in the state gave fresh ammunition to the BJP to attack the Congress government, as it also accused it of rampant corruption.

The Congress sought to ride on the popularity of its "guarantee schemes" and made the BJP-led NDA government's "step-motherly" attitude towards the state a major poll plank.

'Chombu' (empty pot) versus 'Chippu' (empty coconut shell) campaigns of the Congress and BJP symbolically showing the hollowness of the claims being made by the Modi government and the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state, respectively, was among the highlights of the campaign. PTI KSU RS KH