BJP kicks off poll campaign in Karnataka



Bangalore: The ruling BJP kicked off the campaign for the May 5 Assembly polls in Karnataka with a rally in Mysore on Friday and sought to downplay the threat posed by breakaway party headed by heavyweight BS Yeddyurappa.

Chanting the unity mantra, key players -- Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda, Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa besides newly appointed state unit president Prahlad Joshi and senior party leader HN Ananth Kumar -- were present at the "Vijayasankalpa Samavesha" in Mysore.

"There will be a triangular contest in major portions of Karnataka. In some places, it would be Congress and BJP and in others it would be Congress, JDS and BJP", Joshi, who has an organisational and RSS background, told reporters.

Asked about the Karnataka Janatha Pary, floated by former chief minister Yeddyurappa after quitting the BJP late last year, he pointed out that the KJP has not even won a single seat in 147 Assembly constituencies in the recent elections to urban local bodies (ULB).

Joshi claimed that people are now convinced that voting for smaller parties -- referring to KJP and the BSR Congress of former BJP minister BS Sriramulu -- who secured low single digit percentage of votes in ULB polls, in the Assembly Elections is going to be a "waste", and BJP would strive to get this message across to a wider section of the electorate.

Shettar said the BJP government has successfully completed its term, and is confident that it would come back to power with a clear majority.

BJP sources said the party would invite Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for campaigning in the State.

Joshi's appointment is seen by some BJP leaders as consolidation of position by Ananth Kumar in the party's state affairs. Speculation that some Ministers, particularly Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, are mulling to join forces with KJP have persisted.

Meanwhile, Sriramulu has dismissed speculation in some sections that his party, which fared poorly in the ULB polls, might be trying to have a tie-up with the BJP or merge with it, asserting that BSR Congress would go it alone in the assembly elections.

Sources said the BSR Congress would also seek to woo voters with a dash of glamour. They said Kannada actress Pooja Gandhi, and Rakshita Prem, a leading heroine some years ago, would be fielded in the elections.

The Congress is also expected to draft another leading Kannada actress Ramya, already a party member, for campaigning.

PTI