BENGALURU: With a Congress cap on his head and a JD(S) scarf around his neck, Kishore, a resident of Madavara village in Nelamangala, seemed like the perfect mascot for the Congress-JD(S) joint rally on Sunday.“We support Rahul Gandhi and have come here to watch him speak,” he said, resonating the mood of many who had gathered at the BIEC ground in Nelamangala on Sunday.
Flags of the Congress and the JD(S) dotted with larger than life cut-outs of prominent leaders of both parties, welcomed people to the ground. Careful not to offend workers or leaders of either party, organisers had set aside the biggest cut-outs for former UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and JD(S) national president H D Deve Gowda. Cut-outs of prominent leaders of the coalition, including Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Coordination Committee chief Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, AICC in-charge K C Venugopal, and Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge, were strategically placed across the venue. The cut-out that stood out and got all the attention was, however, that of AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, which was being used for the first time in the joint rally.
The crowd that started gathering at 3pm, under the hot sun, soon ran out of patience with leaders of both parties refusing to turn up even after an hour’s delay. By the time, the key leaders took their seat on the dais, there had been a delay of two hours.
“I apologise for the delay,” said Rahul as he started his speech but that did not stop dozens of people, who had already started walking out of the venue. Whether it was the delay in starting the rally or the impatient crowd, leaders of both parties, including Rahul, had to hurry their speeches with Deve Gowda barely speaking for eight minutes.
“People have been brought from Mandya, Tumakuru and Bangalore Rural. They started vacating the venue since they had to return to their villages. The delay was the biggest mistake,” rued a state Congress office-bearer who acknowledged that the dwindling crowd has enraged many leaders, including K C Venugopal.
With slogans of “Siddu Maharaj ki Jai” and “Rahul Rahul”, the biggest cheers from the crowd were reserved for Siddaramaiah and Rahul. Water resources minister D K Shivakumar and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy were welcomed with a thunderous cheer as they entered the dais but the same enthusiasm was missing for the other leaders.