Karnataka is the only southern state ruled by the BJP, and the Congress is trying hard to regain it.
Though a divided house, the party wants to make the most of recent developments in the ruling camp, given the fact that an influential Lingayat leader — former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa — has deserted the BJP and formed his own party, the Karnataka Janata Party.
In its preparations for the coming polls, the state Congress has started collecting applications from ticket seekers at the block, district and state levels. So far, more than 2,000 candidates have applied for 224 assembly seats.
The figure is expected to go up as the party has extended its deadline of receiving application forms from aspirants till January 31.
The central leadership has categorically told aspirants to not visit the party headquarters in Delhi for tickets.
"If they break this rule, their names will not even be taken up in the screening committee," a central leader warned.
Also, Gandhi's disapproval for giving tickets to outsiders has forced the state leadership to put on hold a move to admit disgruntled leaders from the BJP and other parties into the Congress fold.