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BJP to increase PM Modi rallies from 15 to 21 in Karnataka

Karnataka has a 224-member legislative assembly and the 21 rallies Modi may end up addressing in the state are fewer than the 34 he spoke at in Gujarat, which has a 182-member assembly.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 04, 2018 00:01 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Karnataka elections,Narendra Modi,Modi rallies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures to supporters during an election campaign rally in Bangalore on May 3.(AFP Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may end up addressing 21 election rallies in Karnataka, instead of the 15 planned earlier, in a late campaign blitz before the May 12 assembly polls, two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders familiar with the matter said.

Modi began on Tuesday the second round of his campaign in the southern state, addressing three rallies in Chamrajanagar, Udupi and Belagavi. He returned to Karnataka on Thursday to address three more public meetings in Gulbarga, Ballari and Bengaluru. In the first round, he address about half a dozen rallies before poll dates were announced on March 27.

“The original plan had three more public meetings each on May 5, 7 and 8,” the first of the two leaders cited above said on condition of anonymity. “Now he will also address rallies on May 6 and 9. He may end up addressing 21 rallies instead of 15.”

The second BJP leader said the number of rallies Modi is to address were increased because of the positive public response to his public meetings on Tuesday. “He is our only hope. So the party wanted him to spare as much time as he could for campaigning,” he said.

May 10 is the last day of campaigning for the Karnataka elections. A couple of opinion polls have predicted a close contest between the Congress and the BJP in the southern state, and political rivals accused Modi of shying away from the campaign for fear of a loss.

BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said in an interview on Monday that any comparison between the number of rallies Modi addresses in Karnataka and bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, which has almost two times the number of assembly seats, was unnecessary.

Karnataka has a 224-member legislative assembly and the 21 rallies Modi may end up addressing in the state are fewer than the 34 he spoke at in Gujarat, which has a 182-member assembly.

He addressed 24 rallies for last year’s multi-phase polls to the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly. The BJP increased number of Modi meetings in the middle of the Uttar Pradesh campaign; spent three days in and around his parliamentary constituency Varanasi and the move benefitted the BJP, which swept to power in India’s most populous state.

Karnataka is seen as the BJP’s prospective gateway to the south. It is also the largest of the states that the Congress governs now.

On Tuesday, Modi launched a blistering attack on the Congress and chief minister Siddaramaiah, as he floated “2+1” theory to target the “dynasty Congress”. Siddaramiah is contesting two assembly seats, Chamundeshwari and Badami, while his son is the Congress candidate from Varuna. “PM Modi’s rally on May 1 not only energised the BJP cadre, it even built momentum against the Congress. We hope more rallies of the PM will tilt the balance in the BJP ‘s favour,” the first BJP leader said.

The Congress has earlier accused the BJP of limiting the number of Modi rallies in Karnataka sensing an impending defeat. The BJP has rejected the claim.

First Published: May 04, 2018 00:01 IST