NANJANGUD: With just one day’s campaigning left in the high-profile bypoll in Nanjangud and Gundlupet, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to be desperate to turn the tide in his party’s favour. Though the results will not have any bearing on the government, ensuring Congress candidates’ victory is crucial for Siddaramaiah to assert his leadership within and outside the party ahead of the 2018 elections.
In last eight days, Siddaramaiah has fully devoted his time for electioneering and has been criss-crossing the assembly segments; visiting around 20 villages a day, taking part in road shows and addressing rallies. He is attending to his work as CM by clearing urgent files from his Mysuru residence.
Team Congress has a tough task of taking on the BJP’s formidable combination — B S Yeddyurappa and Srinivas Prasad. The two BJP leaders seem to enjoy support of Lingayats and Dalit voters, who together form a majority in these two Assembly segments.
BJP is making most of the caste combination. The party is repeatedly raking up the issue of Dalit pride being hurt after Prasad was dropped from Siddaramaiah cabinet, while Yeddyurappa enjoys solid backing from Lingayats. The Congress, however, clearly lacks a Dalit or Lingayat leader of that stature who can draw votes. The grand old party is completely depending on its poster boy Siddaramaiah.
The ruling party’s campaign mainly revolves around conveying the message that “the government kept its promise and brought governance closer to people.” Siddaramaiah and other leaders, however, are not sparing the BJP leaders, who they term as corrupt.
Poll mgmt goes hi-tech
Congress poll managers seem to have taken a leaf out of Modi’s election strategy by ensuring CM’s virtual presence across the Assembly segments. On Thursday afternoon, when Siddaramaiah was taking part in a road show in Nanjangud town, he was also addressing people at many villages! The party has deployed many mobile vans with big screens to take the message across to voters in the form of a 16-minute video. These vans, stationed close to bus stops and markets, are drawing good crowds. “We think Siddaramaiah has an edge over his rivals,” said a group of villagers who were watching the video at Heggadahalli. These villagers claimed they were not Congress members.
Focus on Lingayats, Dalits
The Congress strategy also focuses on breaking Lingayat-Dalit combination. That is the only way to retain the seats and Congress is said to be making an all-out efforts to divide those votes.
“Voters here are strongly backing Siddaramaiah, who has taken up many welfare measures. Dalits too will vote for Congress,” said Dugad Rajegowda, a Congress sympathizer and an author from Bengaluru, who has been camping here from three days.
Though Congress leaders admit that Lingayats support BJP, they hope the party will be able to dent that vote bank. The party is confident of getting support from smaller segments like minorities and Kurubas. “Voters here do not fall into BJP’s trap and we will get considerable votes from that segment too,” says KPCC State Secretary Kadur C Nanjappa.