Home/ Politics / Policy/  Karnataka elections: Will Rahul Gandhi’s bet on Bengaluru pay off?

Bengaluru: Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited five of Bengaluru’s 28 assembly constituencies as against two constituencies visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 45-day high-decibel Karnataka election campaign that concluded with the state going to polls on Saturday.

The Congress won 13 seats in Bengaluru, against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) 12 in the 2013 Karnataka elections, making many question if Gandhi’s aggressive pitch will be enough to help his party retain or improve upon its tally from the last elections.

This will be answered on Tuesday, when the Karnataka election results are declared.

The face-off in Karnataka is being seen as the Congress’s last stand in a battle to claim national party status, while for the BJP it is a chance to come closer to realizing Modi’s dream of an India purged of the Congress.

Nearly three-quarters of the rallies addressed all over Karnataka by Modi were held by other parties, according to an analysis by Mint. The same was not true of Gandhi, whose rallies were held in at least 33 constituencies, of which 20 were controlled by Congress.

To be sure, the fact that Modi visited fewer constituencies held by his own party may be coloured by the fact that his party, the BJP, won fewer seats during the 2013 elections, and many seats would be represented by other parties.

Also important to note is that Gandhi had started his campaign trail in Karnataka much ahead of the Election Commission announcing poll dates on 27 March.

Some believe that the constituencies visited by the two leaders might be a result of how they function, although a Congress spokesperson rejected any such notion.

Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa attributed the visits to Gandhi’s concern about anti-incumbency or anger against the sitting government. He said Gandhi will naturally have to work on those areas, both to protect the MLAs they already have and to win fresh territory for the Congress.

P.C. Mohan, the sitting BJP MP from Bangalore Central, said people all over the country recognize Modi with the BJP running state governments in 22 states, whereas Gandhi would have to go places where he was recognized.

“We don’t have any empirical evidence to state if the presence of party leaders does help the party win seats. But this cannot be dismissed because the presence of these leaders can surely help sway voters who are not decided," said A. Narayana, a political analyst and professor for public policy at Azim Premji University.

“Remember, when Narendra Modi visited Mangaluru city as Gujarat chief minister in 2013, it hardly had an impact. But now Modi visiting or conducting a meeting has an impact. Again, it appears the BJP went about very strategically when it came to conducting Modi’s rallies and meetings," Narayana added.

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Updated: 13 May 2018, 08:38 PM IST
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