Yeddyurappa, Sadananda Gowda, Ananth Kumar, Pralhad Joshi, Shobha Karandlaje are all fighting their own poll battles

The Bharatiya Janata Party is facing a strange problem with respect to election campaigning this time. Most of its State-level leaders, who have become the party’s popular faces over the years, do not seem to have much time to spare for the party’s campaign as they themselves have entered the fray. The BJP’s prominent leaders, the former Chief Ministers B.S. Yeddyurappa and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, national general secretary Ananth Kumar, State unit president Pralhad Joshi and Shobha Karandlaje, are all contesting the elections. They are not just contesting but are also involved in an intense poll battle against their political opponents. This has virtually tied them down to their constituencies.

Of course, despite their busy schedule these leaders took a break from campaigning in their own constituencies during the Ugadi festival to tour other constituencies. But the time dedicated by them for campaigning in these constituencies does not appear to be adequate given the party’s dependence on them.

Interestingly, all the State-level leaders of the BJP are involved in a high-profile battle in their constituencies. While Mr. Yeddyurappa is taking on the powerful Bangarappa-Rajkumar family in the form of actor Shivarajkumar’s wife Geetha in Shimoga, Mr. Ananth Kumar is facing Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani in Bangalore South. Mr. Sadananda Gowda, who has shifted to Bangalore North, has to outsmart Congress nominee and former MP C. Narayanaswamy who has a strong presence in the constituency.

The party is mostly dependent on its national leaders besides the constituency-level leaders for the campaign. In fact, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is expected to pay three more visits to the State, while a galaxy of national leaders, including Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, is set to tour the State soon. The party’s national leaders are being assigned constituencies where they are said to have some kind of an influence or regional affinity. For example, Mr. Parrikar is expected to tour the coastal region as he can empathise with the people there.

The party is also trying to use extensively the services of other senior party leaders, including the former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and the former Deputy Chief Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, to make up for the absence of the stalwarts.

The party, however, feels that the entry of its stalwarts, Mr. Yeddyurappa and Mr. Sadananda Gowda, into the poll fray has given it an edge over its opponents. It says that this move has lifted the spirits of its workers. The leaders point out that a similar scenario exists even at the national level as almost all its national stalwarts, including Mr. Modi, Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani, are contesting the elections.

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