BELAGAVI: With a tough electoral battle predicted between BJP and Congress in several Mumbai-Karnataka constituencies in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, leaders of both the parties are keen to get star campaigners like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national chief Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi to campaign for their respective candidates in the region.
More than Rahul, the demand for Priyanka is higher in parts of Mumbai-Karnataka even as the Congress has fielded several stalwarts and seasoned leaders.
“We would like to have Priyanka Gandhi campaign in Chikkodi where we will clash directly with BJP. So far, both the parties have not announced their candidate for Chikkodi ... but I am sure that sitting MP Prakash Hukkeri will be fielded,” said Chikkodi MLA Ganesh Hukkeri, who is the son of Prakash Hukkeri.
Many leaders also are in favour of having Rahul campaign in Chikkodi and other parts of Belagavi region besides having Priyanka, said Ganesh Hukkeri, adding that a decision on when to have the star campaigners in the region will be taken soon.
One of the most popular leaders in Belagavi region, Prakash Hukkeri has won Assembly polls six times in a row from Chikkodi segment before he successfully contested the 2014 LS polls. However, the Hukkeris are keen to have star campaigners in Chikkodi to attract voters as they predict a possible close clash in Chikkodi.
Sources said both Rahul and Priyanka may do a whirlwind campaign in Mumbai- Karnataka. Sources said, efforts are on by many BJP leaders and candidates to invite Modi and Shah to bolster the party’s image and popularity among the voters in Mumbai-Karnataka.
BJP candidate Suresh Angadi, who has already won LS polls thrice, has been named as party’s candidate from Belagavi. Despite his potential to retain his seat, the party, sources said, is keen to have their star campaigners in Belagavi in the run up to the polls.
Modi and Rahul have already held rallies in Belagavi and Chikkodi during the last elections attracting massive crowd. A Modi rally in Chikkodi ahead of last year’s Assembly polls had attracted 2 lakh people. However, BJP candidate Annasaheb Jolle had lost against Congress’ Ganesh Hukkeri in the Assembly polls.
However, Modi’s rallies in Mumbai-Karnataka during the 2018 Assembly election had been instrumental in the victory of most BJP candidates in Mumbai-Karnataka, including 10 MLAs from Belagavi district. Some BJP leaders are trying in New Delhi to ensure Shah’s participation in rallies in North Karnataka.
Despite having the chance of winning, the candidates are not ready to enter the fray based on their personal calibre and popularity but are exploring all possible options to bolster their campaigns.
A high-voltage campaign is certain to be witnessed in Mumbai-Karnataka where the clash between the BJP and Congress is all set to go down to the wire.