NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi will launch his Karnataka campaign on Saturday from Bellary where his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi had defeated BJP heavyweight Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 general elections.
Party sources said Rahul chose Bellary to start the campaign for the April assembly polls as it would have an emotional recall with the voters, given the Congress won the 2013 assembly polls under Sonia’s leadership. Old-timers still remember how Sushma had made Sonia’s foreign origin an election issue in 1999.
Five years later, Rahul will lead the party campaign in an election where the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to retain Karnataka as it is pitted against an aggressive BJP.
While Rahul’s temple hopping during the Gujarat campaign last year hogged the limelight, the Congress managers have found an effective way to counter the BJP’s plans to polarise the voters by scheduling a mix of temple and dargah visits during the three-day tour beginning February 10.
Rahul will pray at Huligamma Temple in Koppal and may visit the Gavi Siddeshwara Mutt on Saturday. He is expected to visit Khwaja Bande Nawaz Dargah in Gulbarga on February 12, said party sources.
The Congress chief has already told the party leaders in Karnataka to present a positive agenda before the voters and highlight the achievements of the Siddaramaiah government.
The Karnataka campaign will involve road shows, public meetings, interactions with civil society groups and sessions featuring farmers.
Rahul is also likely to visit the house of late Qamrul Islam in Gulbarga. Party sources said more such tours will be organised in the coming weeks to allow Rahul cover the entire state while local leaders will keep up the momentum.
Karnataka is among the few states where the Congress is in power in the country
It was under Sonia Gandhi that the party had come to power in the southern state
Bellary is symbolic as Sonia had defeated Sushma Swaraj