In a coordinated social media campaign on Friday evening, leaders of the Congress invited AICC president Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Senior leaders including KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress legislature party chief Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Home Minister MB Patil took to social media sites to promote the idea of Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Karnataka. On Twitter, #RaGaFromKarnataka trended on Friday evening as Congress leaders and their supporters tweeted using the hashtag.
While the social media campaign is a build-up to Rahul Gandhi's scheduled rally in Kalaburgi on Monday, party leaders told The New Indian Express that the state unit truly believes that Karnataka is more than welcoming for Gandhi.
"For his stature, he can contest from any seat he likes. There are plenty in Karnataka to choose from. South India will play a decisive role in this election. Narendra Modi isn't a favoured face but Rahul Gandhi has a lot of traction," said MLC Rizwan Arshad who also heads the KPCC media and communications team.
"On behalf of @INCKarnataka I urge @RahulGandhi to consider contesting from Karnataka for the forthcoming #LokSabhaElection2019. He should also be our representative from South India & for that he should choose my state. #RaGaFromKarnataka. (sic)" tweeted KPCC Chief Dinesh Gundu Rao from his personal Twitter handle at 3.06 pm.
In about an hour, at 4.01 pm, the official Twitter handle of the KPCC Chief tweeted, "We invite Shri @RahulGandhi to contest from Karnataka in addition to Amethi. Karnataka has a strong bond with the Gandhi family having elected Smt Indira Gandhi from Chikkamagaluru and Smt Sonia Gandhi from Ballari. #RaGaFromKarnataka (sic)."
In between these two tweets, Siddaramaiah took to his personal Twitter account at 3.50 pm to reiterate the invite. "Karnataka has always supported & encouraged @INCIndia leaders. It has been proved in case of Smt. Indira ji & Smt. Sonia ji. We also want our next Prime Minister of India Shri. @RahulGandhi to contest from Karnataka & herald new developmental paradigm. #RaGaFromKarnataka (sic)." the Congress legislature party chief tweeted. He even referred to Rahul Gandhi as the future Prime Minister.
Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara posted his tweet at 5.35 pm using the hashtag. "Two important leaders Indira Gandhi & Sonia Gandhi have contested from the state, tasted success & helped India move forward! In this spirit of development, we say yes to #RaGaFromKarnataka for #Elections2019. K'taka will be proud to be the state represented by our future PM! (sic)" he tweeted adding to the social media campaign.
Later in the evening, Home Minister and former AICC secretary M B Patil tweeted with the same hashtag. "The State Congress Workers and Cadre want the CP to contest from Karnataka which will further energize our cadre, in the southern region! #RaGaFromKarnataka (SIC)" he tweeted. By 7 pm on Friday, the hashtag #RaGaFromKarnataka had hundreds of tweets and a reach of about 3,23,088.
Mahila Congress State Unit chief Pushpa Amarnath too joined in. "Karnataka has always loved our beloved women leaders Smt.Indira Gandhi and Smt. Sonia Gandhi. This time Women in #Karnataka urge our next Prime Minister, Shri. Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka. #RaGaFromKarnataka @MahilaCongress @KarnatakaPMC @INCKarnataka" she tweeted.
Taking a cue from its Karnataka counterpart, Tamil Nadu Congress leaders too invited Rahul Gandhi to contest from their state. "I urge @RahulGandhi to consider contesting from Tamilnadu for the forthcoming #LokSabhaElection2019. He should also be Prime minister from South India & where the change is already happening! #RGfromTamilnadu" tweeted Manickam Tagore, AICC secretary.
"Any seat in one of the three Southern states- Karnataka, Tamil Nadu or Kerala is being suggested to the AICC president. We hope he decides to contest from the South along with his bastion of Amethi," said a Congress office-bearer. If he decides to contest from Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi is likely to pick Bidar Lok Sabha constituency which the Congress state leadership has converted into a comfortable seat.