In Karnataka, Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi Face Off With Parallel Campaigns

Bengaluru:  The political temperature in Karnataka shot up this weekend with the presence of both BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the state, where elections will be held within a few months. Both are campaigning in the northern part of the state. The ruling Congress is trying to retain the state in the face of A massive BJP challenge.

While the Congress is hoping to hold onto one of the few states it still rules, the BJP is pushing to reclaim the only state in south India where it had been able to form the government.  It has been a bitter campaign so far, with allegations of communal and political murders and tit-for-tat charges of large-scale corruption.

The BJP campaign has been spear-headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who have visited the state multiple times over the last six months.

On Sunday, Mr Shah went to the Bidar district, where several farmers have committed suicide under twin pressures of debt and crop failure. He also met sugarcane farmers of Humnabad taluk. Sugarcane farmers in both north and south Karnataka have been facing distress. The water intensive crop has repeatedly failed as the state suffered through three consecutive years of drought.

amit shah

On Sunday, Amit Shah went to the Bidar district, where several farmers have committed suicide under twin pressures of debt and crop failure

“Just like Uttar Pradesh, sugar mills will have to clear dues of the sugarcane farmers within 90 days. This will be part of our election manifesto in Karnataka,” Amit Shah told farmers.

The BJP has been targeting the state’s Congress government, accusing it of failing to help the distressed farmers following the drought.

“The Siddaramaiah government does not allow the benefits of schemes to reach the right beneficiaries because they fear the Narendra Modi government,” Mr Shah said today – an accusation the state government has denied.

In Bijapur, Rahul Gandhi pressed ahead with the Congress campaign, holding rallies and corner meetings in the blistering heat. As on earlier occasions, the Congress chief kept the focus tight on big-ticket corruption, accusing the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre of inaction.

“Modi says he is the country’s ‘chowkidar’ and not the Prime Minister. He also says he is a ‘sevak’ (servant) of the people. Then he should explain how a diamond trader (Nirav Modi) could siphon off Rs 22,000 crore from a public sector bank without his knowledge,” the Congress chief said at a rally in Bagalkot district.

Mr Gandhi, who took charge of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi last year, has also approved a 43-member State Election Committee, which will be headed by the party’s state unit chief G Parameshwara.

Besides Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and senior leader KC Venugopal, all secretaries in-charge of the state and lawmakers will be part of the committee, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in a statement.

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