Home / Politics / Policy /  Narendra Modi to visit Karnataka next week

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Karnataka on 29 October, days before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) kicks off its 75-day “Nava Karnataka Parivarthana Rally" on 2 November from Bengaluru.

The “Nava Karnataka Parivarthana Rally" will be led by BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, B.S.Yeddyurappa.

During his visit, Modi will participate in the mega rally of Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project in Dakshina Kannada, attend the 10th anniversary programme by Vedanta Bharati (an organisation that instills moral values in children) where thousands of children will sing the Shree Soundarya Lahari Samarpana in Bengaluru, and inaugurate the 116-km railway line in North Karnataka built at a cost of Rs1,282 crore.

Modi’s will also address 100,000 rural women beneficiaries of central financial inclusion schemes.

Modi will also attend an event to commemorate Dr Veerendra Heggade’s 50 years as “Dharmadhikari" of Dharmasthala Temple. Heggade is a well-known social, economical and cultural personality, wields considerable influence over the population in the region and any endorsement from him would help change the party’s fading fortunes in Karnataka, analysts said.

Modi’s visit to Dharmasthala comes days after Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah visited the temple and assured all necessary assistance to Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) and also announced the setting up of 500 Indira Canteens—government-sponsored subsidised food venture—in the district by January.

It remains to be seen if Modi will unveil any new schemes or plans while at Dharmasthala. Modi recently announced a slew of projects in poll-bound Gujarat, including the first phase of Rs615-crore roll-on roll-off ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district and Dahej in Bharuch in the Gulf of Cambay, Mint reported.

Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and professor at the Karnatak University, Dharwad, said Siddaramaiah’s visit to the region was part of a larger strategy to push the BJP on the backfoot.

Coastal districts of Karnataka, especially Dakshina Kannada, have a large presence of right-wing groups that frequently clash with minority groups, some of whom enjoy the backing of the Congress. The BJP is looking beyond caste equations in the district and trying to consolidate the fragmented Hindu vote and isolate the minorities.

Ramaswamy said that the recent induction of Anant Kumar Hegde, a controversial politician with far right views, into the Union cabinet is to further the same agenda in a district that has mixed BJP and Congress representation in the state assembly and Parliament.

“The BJP, especially after the infighting between Yeddyurappa and K.S. Eshwarappa (leader of opposition in the legislative council) has become a little slow and are losing confidence," he added.

The BJP also increased its attacks against the government, especially after Amit Shah pulled up the state unit for its inability to capitalise on contentious issues like the income tax raids on energy minister D.K. Shivakumar, fledgling infrastructure and mismanagement of handling the Cauvery river water problem last year, among other issues.

The BJP also carried on with its “Mangaluru Chalo" bike rally from across the state to use the recent violence in the Dakshina Kannada district to mobilize masses.

Though Modi will not be part of the Parivarthana rally on 2 November, BJP leaders said he will be present in the state on 28 January (the last day of the 75-day rally). While the central leadership of the BJP continue their focus on poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for the moment, it will certainly hope that its fortunes change for the better in the beginning of next year, just in time the state heads to assembly polls.

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