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Karnataka Polls: Yogi’s whirlwind campaigning has 35 rallies, road shows

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is set for his biggest campaign in poll-bound Karnataka, where BJP has lined up nearly 35 rallies and road shows for him.

Updated: Apr 25, 2018 14:37 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Karnataka polls,Chief minister Yogi Adityanath,Uttar Pradesh
The itinerary of Yogi, whose Nath sect wields considerable influence in coastal Karnataka, is still not official, but he is set to begin his campaign in the first week of May.(HT Photo)

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is set for his biggest campaign in poll-bound Karnataka, where BJP has lined up nearly 35 rallies and road shows for him.

The itinerary of Yogi, whose Nath sect wields considerable influence in coastal Karnataka, is still not official, but he is set to begin his campaign in the first week of May.

BJP leaders say Yogi’s twin identities of a monk-politician would come in handy for the party in polarising the voters of the Congress-ruled state that goes to polls on May 12.

Yogi’s campaign is spread across six days and expected to be in two phases -- a short couple of days of intense campaigning followed by another round after a brief break.

In between his rallies and road shows, Yogi is also expected to visit temples and mutts as BJP looks to play the Hindutva card in a state where it is anxious to regain power it lost 10 years ago.

In December last, while addressing a ‘Parivartan Yatra’ rally in Hubbali, Yogi had stoked passions by asking people to choose between Hanuman Jayanti and Tipu Jayanti; the remark aimed at questioning Congress’ two-year-old decision to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler who hailed from the region.

Ahead of Yogi’s visit, a Congress leader has queered the pitch by making derogatory remarks against Yogi. BJP leaders say that a counter offensive from the UP chief minister is very likely. “Expect a counter (attack) for sure,” a BJP leader said.

In mid-April, Karnataka Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao had set the tone for Yogi’s visit by openly asking the people of Karnataka to boycott him. “Yogi is a hypocrite and a thug. He should not be allowed to enter Karnataka. In fact there isn’t any need to call him Yogi ... He is a ‘bhogi’ and if he visits Karnataka he should be beaten with slippers ...,” Rao had said. He later apologised for his remarks describing them as an ‘emotional outburst.’

Earlier, during his February visit, Yogi had taken on chief minister K Siddaramaiah on twitter, which blew up into a twitter war between the two chief ministers.

Mrityunjay Kumar, the UP chief minister’s advisor, said: “He (Yogi) is equally popular among Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Dalits. His Nath sect has a considerable following there.”

A BJP leader pointed out how, during his previous visits, Yogi had stayed at Sri Adichunchunagiri Mutt, headed by Vokkaliga seer Nirmalananda Nath Swami (who belongs to the Nath sect) to showcase his connect with Vokkaligas.

Vokkaligas are considered the second largest community in Karnataka after the Lingayats.

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 13:48 IST