Bengaluru/New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main challenger to Karnataka’s Congress government, has yet again deployed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the assembly election, hoping his popularity will strike a chord not just with supporters but also with party workers.

Modi has held at least 17 public meetings spread across Karnataka, primarily in coastal and northern areas, and also used the NAMO App for the first time to speak directly to BJP workers, especially women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the biggest leader of BJP. We don’t have any other leader, either at the national level or in Karnataka, who can match his popularity. All other leaders, whether in opposition or within BJP, look mediocre in front of Modi’s popularity," said a Bengaluru-based senior BJP leader involved in Modi’s campaign.

On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also addressed approximately 17 public meetings across the state this month. The election also saw former Congress president Sonia Gandhi address an election rally after two years.

The four addresses by Modi via video bridge through the NAMO App marked the time he was using mobile technology to directly reach out to party workers and supporters. Senior BJP leaders point out that direct interactions with Modi help boost the confidence of party workers who in turn are in direct touch with voters.

“Karnataka is the hub of information technology, so we took a conscious decision to use the NAMO App for our advantage. The use of technology for election campaigning is only going to increase in other elections," the BJP leader added.

The impact of Modi’s campaign can be gauged from the fact that since 2014 general elections, the BJP has managed to defeat the Congress in at least 14 states where the Congress and BJP were in a direct contest.

“Karnataka elections are very important for BJP because it is the only big state where Congress is in power. The victory of BJP in Karnataka will ensure that we are a step closer to Congress-mukt Bharat," said a BJP leader based in Delhi.

The polls in Karnataka are also significant because it is the only southern state where BJP has been in power on its own.

Of the 129 Lok Sabha seats held by southern states, the BJP won 21 in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, with Karnataka accounting for 17 of them.

“Karnataka is the gateway for BJP to expand its footprint in the southern part of the country. This election will act as a springboard for the BJP to expand in other adjoining states," the second BJP leader added.