BJP capitalises on Modi wave, while Congress in ‘ticket war’

At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party has already launched a door-to-door campaign for the party’s victory in its stronghold — Dakshina Kannada — without waiting for the announcement of the poll dates, the Congress is still in the process of “electing a candidate”.

Pending announcement, the BJP camp is pretty certain that it will field the sitting MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, who has no challenger. Though the District Congress Committee recommended only the name of party strongman B. Janardhana Poojary as its candidate, things took a different turn when Harsha Moily, the son of Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily, emerged as a contender, belatedly.

When the Congress ‘ticket war’ reached New Delhi, the high command reportedly decided to hold a “primary” election in certain constituencies to choose its candidate. Dakshina Kannada is one such constituency in the State and one of 15 in the country. When the primaries — touted as a symbol of the party moving towards internal democracy — will be held is not known. The district unit is waiting for the guidelines on the procedure to be followed, and who constitutes the electoral college.

Congress workers, who had rallied behind Mr. Poojary, believe that the veteran is the right man to take on the Modi wave. Interestingly, the Harsha Moily camp is also projecting him as the man making the cut. They say being young, he will draw younger voters leaning towards BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The foreign-educated Mr. Harsha is the CEO of MokshaYug Access Ltd., a commercial venture that aims to ensure income certainty for rural Indian farmers. Though he is not much known to party workers, he exudes the confidence of sailing through the primaries, which most Congressmen do not foresee.

Yet, if the primaries throw up a surprise by choosing the younger candidate, it will change the Lok Sabha fight dramatically, though one has to see whether the choice will be acceptable to the party in particular and people in general.

Modi’s visit

The BJP has been holding programmes in the run-up to the rally to be addressed by Mr. Modi on February 18 and creating a buzz, while the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh strategists are already burning the midnight oil to ensure the party’s success for the seventh consecutive time.

Mr. Kateel told The Hindu that the Modi wave and the “national outlook” of voters during parliamentary elections would see his party’s success, even though the Congress had done better than the BJP in seven of the eight Assembly constituencies of the district in 2013. On their part, Congress strategists are hoping for Mr. Poojary’s success in the primaries, as he has the backing of the Billava community and minorities, besides being a leader of long standing.

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