On Monday, the Congress party will begin a series of protests and rallies across India that will continue for the next several months to galvanise party workers and the people at large in the run-up to the Karnataka assembly polls in May, and also the assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in November-December.
The first in the series of these meetings, protests and demonstrations will be the “save the Constitution” meeting here at the Talkatora Stadium. It has been organised by the Scheduled Castes cell of the Congress, and will be followed by a public rally of the party at the Ramlila Ground on April 29.
The protests, demonstrations and public rallies will be the party’s attempt to continue raising issues of public interest — atrocities on Dalits, farm distress and unemployment – to build a political discourse around the “failures” of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for the months leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Congress ‘President Rahul Gandhi is to attend both the events, and will also be travelling to Karnataka. But, the bulk of the campaigning will be done by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who will now contest from two assembly constituencies.
The Karnataka unit of the Congress, after murmurs of discontent over seat distribution, on Sunday attempted to show a united face with senior party leaders stating there were no divisions in the party.
The Congress on Sunday dropped its candidate for Madikeri, H S Chandramauli, who had represented fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi as his lawyer. It had faced criticism not just from the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, but also from within. The Congress released the second and final list of nominees for the May 12 Karnataka assembly polls. Siddaramaiah will now also fight from the Badami assembly constituency. Earlier, the party had named Dr Devraj Patil as its nominee in Badami, but he was dropped. Siddaramaiah, who has already filed his nominations from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru, has been saying he was under pressure from local party leaders in Bagalkote and Vijayapura districts to contest from Badami, as it would boost the party's prospects in the region.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said there was nothing wrong in Siddaramaiah contesting from two constituencies. “Didn't Modi contest from two constituencies? Did any question arise then,” Kharge asked.
Kharge and M Veerappa Moily had earlier opposed two constituencies for Siddaramaiah. They had argued it would consolidate Vokkaliga votes in favour of the Janata Dal (Secular) in Mysuru region, and it will also send a wrong message about the CM lacking confidence.
Now, Moily has also rejected reports that there was infighting in the Karnataka unit. He said the party was united.