Shah flags off BJP rally in poll-bound Karnataka

Bengaluru, Nov 2 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party’s National President Amit Shah on Thursday flagged off the party’s statewide 75-day rally in poll-bound Karnataka at a huge gathering of its leaders and cadres.

Shah, who had landed at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport in the morning, was stranded in traffic for over an hour, after which he was flown in a chopper to the party workers’ gathering at Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre on the city’s outskirts.

Thousands of party cadres on two-wheelers going to the meeting caused traffic snarls on several of the city’s arterial roads leading to the venue.

“We are conducting the rally till January-end, covering all the 224 assembly segments to bring our party back to power in Karnataka,” an official of the party’s state unit told IANS here.

Nearly one lakh party workers and supporters from across the state gathered in the city to take part in the bike rally from here.

The assembly elections are due in April-May, 2018.

The BJP came to power on its own for the first time in 2008 but lost to the Congress in the May 2013 assembly election.

Coming four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on October 29, the rally titled “Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivarthana Yatra” will criss-cross the state in two phases.

“The rally will cover 17 districts in the first phase and 13 districts in the second phase, which will be flagged by our party leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Hubballi on December 21,” said the official.

Modi will address the rally on its last day here on January 28.

About three lakh cadres and supporters of the party will participate in the twin-phase rally on motor bikes and four-wheelers, with state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa at the forefront onboard a customised special bus.

Yeddyurappa, who was Chief Minister from 2008 to 11, is also a lawmaker in the Lok Sabha from Shivamogga in the state’s Malnad region.

“Besides party leaders in the state, several Union Ministers will participate in the rally and address the people on putting Karnataka back on development, as the Congress had failed to deliver on all fronts,” said the official.

Among the central ministers are D.V. Sadananada Gowda, Anantha Kumar, Ramesh Jigijinagi and A.K.Hegde who hail from the state and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha lawmaker from the state.

The party’s former Chief Minister in the state Jagadish Shettar, former Deputy Chief Ministers K. Eshwarappa, A.R. Ashok, former Minster and the party’s lawmaker in the Lok Sabha from Chikkamagaluru Shobha Karandlaje will also be part of the rally.