To launch election campaign from Koppa today

Within hours of the announcement of the date for the State Assembly polls on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party plunged into action and announced a poll campaign schedule beginning from Thursday itself, besides constituting a committee to finalise the poll manifesto.

As soon as the Election Commission of India dropped hints that it may announce the poll dates, the BJP core committee, comprising top leaders including Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, met in Bangalore and held a marathon meeting to chalk out its poll strategy.

The party will begin its campaign from Koppa near the pilgrimage centre of Sringeri in Chickmagalur district from Thursday. This phase of the campaign, involving district-level conventions of booth-level workers, will be attended by all the important State leaders, including Mr. Shettar, Deputy Chief Ministers K.S. Eshwarappa and R. Ashok, former Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and national general secretary Ananth Kumar. All the districts would be covered by April 3 as per the schedule.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Mr. Shettar and Mr. Eshwarappa said the party State election committee would meet in Bangalore on March 23 to finalise the first list of candidates.

The list of candidates would be formally announced after getting clearance from the party central election committee, Mr. Eshwarappa said. He said the party had already commenced the process of selection of candidates by consulting all its district units and prominent leaders. He hinted that the process of selection of candidates for about 150 constituencies had almost been finalised, saying the names of single candidates had been proposed by the district units for these many constituencies.

He also announced that a committee, headed by MP and former Minister D.B. Chandre Gowda, had been constituted to prepare the party’s poll manifesto.

He said “a strong party organisation and the government’s achievements in the last five years” were the factors on which the party was banking upon to return to power. “We are confident of returning to power,” he said.

In an obvious reference to the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit the BJP and joined the Karnataka Janata Paksha, Mr. Eshwarappa said: “Our workers are happy that our party is now cleansed with the quitting of those who were jailed and those who are facing CBI probe.”

Panel to decide

However, when asked if the party would give ticket to other individuals such as Krishnaiah Setty and Katta Subramanya Naidu, who too had been lodged in jail and who are facing corruption charges, Mr. Eshwarappa evaded a direct reply, and said: “The party election committee will take a call on that issue.”

He welcomed the decision to complete the polling process in a single phase by claiming that it would be advantageous for a cadre-based party like the BJP.

More In: Karnataka | National