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Congress launches poll campaign

Special Correspondent
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Party promises to provide a clean government

Projecting a fresh image in the heat:Senior Congress leaders G. Parameshwara, V Hanumantha Rao, Siddaramaiah, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, M. Veerappa Moily and S.R. Patil at the inauguration of the party’s Assembly election campaign in Bangalore on Saturday.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Projecting a fresh image in the heat:Senior Congress leaders G. Parameshwara, V Hanumantha Rao, Siddaramaiah, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, M. Veerappa Moily and S.R. Patil at the inauguration of the party’s Assembly election campaign in Bangalore on Saturday.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Promising to provide a clean government if voted to power, unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress on Saturday launched its campaign for the May 5 Assembly elections.

Organised by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee’s (KPCC) campaign committee, and led by Veeranna Mattikatti, it was launched in Malleswaram, a constituency where the party is yet to officially announce its candidate.

Although touted as a major event, the shadow of dissidence over candidate selection hung over the inauguration. Only a few Central leaders attended the event, such as Union Ministers M. Veerappa Moily and M. Mallikarjun Kharge, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary V. Hanumantha Rao and senior State leaders C.K. Jaffer Sharief and C.M. Ibrahim. The crowd dwindled with each leader’s speech and the sweltering heat added to the general discomfort.

Expressing confidence that the Congress would gain a majority on its own, leaders such as KPCC president G. Parameshwara called upon the party workers to work unitedly towards victory.

“You have seen the disastrous rule of the BJP government. Give us a chance and we will restore the State’s lost glory. This is the time when we have to remain united and ensure the party’s victory,” said Mr. Moily.

In his address, Mr. Siddaramaiah slammed both the BJP and the JD(S) for “damaging” the image of the State “which was painstakingly built to emerge among the top performing States by the previous Congress governments”.

“If anyone is responsible for allowing the BJP to form its government for the first time in south India, it is the Janata Dal (Secular). The BJP’s tenure is a black mark in the history of Karnataka,” he said. “The JD(S) is as communal as the BJP, and is only wearing a mask of secularism to mislead minorities. H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy joined hands with the BJP for their gains.”

Mr. Parameshwara said: “We will release our poll manifesto in the next few days, which promises a transparent and responsive administration.” He said the final list of 47 candidates will be released in a day or two.

Meanwhile two former corporators from the JD(S) — Kokila Chandrashekar and Keshava Murthy — and party worker Chandreshekar Appodu, and BJP worker Satyanarayana joined the Congress. All are from Chamarajpet Assembly Constituency.

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