SHIKARIPURA: Dozens of people dotted the highway on either side near Harogoppa village in Shikaripura on Wednesday. Children and elders alike - some with garlands and others with lemons in hands — waited anxiously waiving the BJP flag. A cheer rose in the air as their seven-time legislator’s convoy — led by an open-air campaign van — was spotted on the horizon. Within seconds, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa descended on the state highway connecting Shikaripura with Shivamogga, built by his initiative, to greet the people who had been waiting for him in the sultry sun.
After touring the state since June last year as part of his ‘Jana Samparka Abhiyaan’, ‘Parivarthana Yatra’ and dozens of elections rallies, Yeddyurappa visited his constituency to campaign for the first time on Wednesday. While he has been campaigning for BJP candidates in the state, sharing stage with party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Yeddyurappa has left the responsibility of campaigning in his constituency to his workers. Since 1983, he has represented Shikaripura seven terms. Except for one defeat in 1999, people of Shikaripura have stood firmly behind him, even in the face of his exit from BJP and contesting on a KJP ticket. There is no reason for Yeddyurappa to believe that this election will be any different.
Such is the confidence Yeddyurappa has on his voters that his campaign plan in Shikaripura is all of one-and-a-half days divided between visits to villages, temples and a roadshow. The man who won by 24,425 votes in 2013 on a KJP ticket is confident of a 50,000 vote margin this time around.
The New Indian Express caught up with the BJP leader on his packed campaign trail that included visits to 32 villages. Zooming on the broad, tarred state highway built under his regime, Yeddyurappa’s SUV followed by an escort car was welcomed with cheer village after village. The 75-year-old, in crisp white safari with a lotus (his party’s symbol) pinned to the left of his shirt, hopped on and off his open-air campaign vehicle seeking votes at every village he stopped. At every stop, Yeddyurappa was welcomed with garlands, aarthi and lemons — to ward off the evil eye.
“Hattu vote kooda vyatyasa agbaardu” (not even 10 votes should sway) Yeddyurappa requested a group of women who followed him to the car highlighting the issues faced by self-help groups. He patiently told women what his manifesto had in store for women SHGs. The state BJP chief began Wednesday’s 12-hour campaign at 10am from his residence in Shikaripura.
Abuzz with activities, volunteers running up and down the war-room on the first floor of his residence were preparing the schedule for the day. Once on the road, Yeddyurappa’s convoy stopped every 15 minutes to address a gathering. His promise to buy maize at `1,500/quintal found favour among the crowds.
Despite a dominant Kuruba population that Congress is attempting to lure, Yeddyurappa is confident of a victory. “For 40 years now I have been working for the people. People are happy with the developmental activities. We have ensured roads, infrastructure and water pipelines and people know I will work more for them,” said a confident Yeddyurappa even as he waved at supporters who had gathered around Yelaneerukoppa village. While pre-poll surveys have predicted Congress to emerge the single largest party, Yeddyurappa is confident of taking oath as Chief Minister on May 17.