Congress steps up campaigning in Mandya Lok Sabha segment

The ruling Congress stepped up its campaigning in Mandya district on Friday with a host of political heavyweights, including the former External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, arriving for extending support to party candidate Ramya for Wednesday’s bypolls from Mandya Lok Sabha constituency.

Mr. Krishna, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara, Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan, MLAs N.A. Harris and Sudarshan, KPCC leaders M.V. Rajasekharan and Veeranna Mathikatti, All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader Selvakumar, Mandya District Congress Committee (MDCC) president and former Minister M.S. Atmananda and B.L. Shankar campaigned for Ramya at Maddur and Mandya.

The leaders, addressing impressive gatherings, wanted voters to use their right to exercise their franchise in a judicious way.

Morale booster

Amid cheer from his supporters, Mr. Krishna started his campaign activities at Shivapura block in Maddur at noon on Friday.

The senior Congress leader charged the Janata Dal (Secular) with entering into an unholy alliance with the communal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a dream of winning the byelections. He appealed to the people across Mandya Lok Sabha constituency to vote for the Congress.

It was the time to question the ethics and secularism of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda whose party was in an unholy alliance with the BJP, Mr. Krishna said.

Mr. Krishna said that he would work to strengthen the party in the district in the coming days.

‘Father-son party’

Mr. Rahman Khan severely criticised Mr. Deve Gowda and his family members for adopting “double standards” to face the Congress in the byelections.

The Janata Dal(S) is an “Appa-makkala paksha” (father-son party), which has only three leaders [Mr. Deve Gowda and his sons]. Mr. Rahman Khan urged the voters to teach the “opportunistic Janata Dal(S) and its leaders” a lesson in the byelections.

At Mandya

In the evening, Mr. Krishna and other leaders addressed a huge crowd at Silver Jubilee Park off Bangalore-Mysore State Highway in Mandya and urged them to support Ms. Ramya.

For the Janata Dal(S), politics is a way to capture power and it has joined hands with the communal BJP again, he said. Mr. Krishna said that the Congress is the only secular party in the country.

The turnout was impressive at both the places with thousands of Congress workers attending the programmes. Friday’s programmes evoked tremendous response as the people turned up in large numbers in Mandya and Maddur, the strongholds of Janata Dal(S).

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched the campaign trail in the district on Wednesday. Two days after the high-profile campaign by Mr. Siddaramaiah, Mr. Krishna and other leaders joined the electioneering to give a boost to Congress workers.

Mr. Krishna’s arrival has energised the party leaders and the grassroots workers.

Collective decision

Prior to addressing the party activists here, Mr. Krishna and Dr. Parameshwara told presspersons that “it was a collective decision of the party’s high-command to field Ms. Ramya in the byelections.”

The total voting population consists mostly of women and youngsters. Hence, AICC president Sonia Gandhi has decided to field Ms. Ramya, they said.

Blamed

Dr. Parameshwara blamed Janata Dal(S) leaders H.D. Kumaraswamy and N. Cheluvaraya Swamy, who vacated their Lok Sabha seats to contest in the Assembly elections, for the byelections which caused a burden on the State Exchequer.

Electioneering

Meanwhile, electioneering that remained low-key so far in Pandavapura and Melkote reached its peak on Friday evening with Ms. Ramya taking up campaigning in these places.

Ms. Ramya and other Congress leaders staged road shows at different places in Pandavapura taluk besides conducting door-to-door campaigns.

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