The upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 has defied confident prediction, and the BJP may just have indirectly confirmed that its battle is not going to be as easy as its leader make it sound. The schedule of the party's star-of-star campaigners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has now been increased to include 21 rallies.
Modi began his campaign blitz on Tuesday, addressing three rallies in different parts of the state. He was scheduled to address a total of 15 rallies across five days. The schedule has now been expanded to 21 rallies, which would keep him campaigning in Karnataka closer to polling day.
On Thursday, Modi is scheduled to address rallies at three major cities of the state - 11 am at Kalaburagi, 3 pm at Ballari and 6 pm in Bengaluru.
The BJP has put on a brave face and its leaders have repeatedly said they are confident of winning. So, it is unclear if the expansion of Modi's campaign schedule in the state is an acknowledgement that the battle is not in the bag or whether the party is shifting gears to increase its margin.
The BJP has been locked in a heated war of words with the ruling Congress in the run-up to the polls. The slugfest between the two parties has been especially hectic and vitriolic on social media platforms, considering the age demographics and high level of connectedness in Karnataka.
Opinion polls have found it impossible to uniformly guess which way the polls could swing. There have however been some who have predicted a hung Assembly, in which case former PM HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS] could play kingmaker.
That is probably why Modi praised Gowda at his poll rally in the coastal temple town of Udupi. He did it in a way where he also managed to underscore that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had attacked Gowda's JDS as the 'B-team of the BJP'.
Karnataka is set to go to the polls in a single phase on May 12, with the counting of votes set for May 15.
The BJP, with its Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, is attempting to form the government for the second time in Karnataka. The Congress is looking to retain power under incumbent CM Siddaramaiah.