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In Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi Walks Away from Power Tussle, Drums Up Support to ‘Jodo Bharat, Congress’

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Tracking RaGa

The third leg of Rahul Gandhi’s 3,500-kilometre Bharat Jodo Yatra started in poll-bound Karnataka with two strong messages — one for the Congress and the other for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the well-attended gathering at Gundlupet, Gandhi said the Congress had a message for the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS): “We will expose their corruption, rising cases of unemployment and divisive politics of hate.”

Gandhi had a message to the Congress as well. He held the hands of Congress’s strong yet politically competitive leaders — Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar — while playing the drum, to send out a strong message of unity and the need to remain united.

This is the second time that Gandhi is seen insisting that the two leaders show a united front as both leaders have been in the midst of an internal power struggle.

Earlier, during Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday celebration, which was seen as a show of strength by the former CM and counter to the claims that he was sidelined in the party with the rise of Shivakumar, Gandhi asked both the leaders to give each other a hug.

Rahul Gandhi, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar at the event. (News18)

“This yatra is an effort to save our Constitution, to bring people closer, to listen to people and show that people can live in peace and without the fear of discrimination. If somebody trips or falls, we lend a hand. No question is asked about the person’s religion or caste,” Gandhi said.

POSTER WAR CONTINUES

While the poster war between the Congress and BJP continues, after the PayCM campaign launched by the Congress against the alleged “40% cut demand”, the tempo and temper was raised when at least 40 hoardings and posters of Rahul Gandhi, opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar were torn in Chamarajanagar, the place from where Gandhi began the Karnataka leg of the padayatra.

During the function, former chief minister Siddaramaiah took the opportunity to “warn the BJP”. He said, “The BJP was unable to accept the tremendous response Rahul Gandhi and the Bharat Jodo yatris were getting and so were adopting cheap tactics such as tearing posters and defacing hoardings.”

“I want to warn them [BJP], if you continue to create hurdles for the yatra, our Congress workers will not remain silent. It will be difficult for any BJP leader to move around in the state,” he said.

‘WE WILL BE BACK’

Siddaramaiah also had a warning for a few police officers, who he alleged were “working for the BJP”.

“We will be back in power in six months and those who found to be hand-in-glove with the BJP will be taught a lesson,” he said.

BASAVANNA OUTREACH

Gandhi will tour Karnataka for 21 days and will cover 511 km on foot.

He kicked off his yatra on Friday with a tweet addressing the people of Karnataka: “Greetings to Karnataka – the land of the great Guru Basavanna, whose teachings of building an inclusive society is the guiding light of #BharatJodoYatra.”

Gandhi, who said he had been fascinated by the teachings of the 12the century poet and founder of Lingayatism Basavanna, on August 4 got initiated into the sect. He was given an Ishtalinga, a symbol of ‘the universal force’ which is tied to a thread across the chest as part of the deeksha or initiation. While Gandhi said that it was his wish for a long time, it is also being perceived as an outreach towards the influential Lingayat community, which largely favours the BJP and forms close to 17% of Karnataka’s voting population.

As the march proceeds from Chamarajanagara’s Gundlupet towards Mysuru district, Gandhi will halt at Begur, where he will interact with members from the Soliga tribe.

MEDIA JIBE

Gandhi, meanwhile, had a jibe for the media as well.

“All constitutional institutions, media and other agencies have shut their doors to the Opposition and they have no other choice, but to go on a padaytra to raise their voice. The Central government controls everything. Even in Parliament, when the Opposition rises to speak, they shut our microphones. This march is the only option and nobody can stop us,” he said, before taking to the streets of Gundlupet and greeting people with a wave and a smile.

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