Creating a saffron surge, BJP president Amit Shah Wednesday held a massive roadshow on the city outskirts that falls under Chikkaballapura Lok Sabha constituency, campaigning for party candidate B N Bachche Gowda, who is pitted against Congress leader M Veerappa Moily. Hundreds of enthusiastic BJP workers cheered Shah chanting "Modi, Modi" as the "Rath", a modified vehicle, covered little more than one and a half kilometre distance with Bachche Gowda, MLA, among others, accompanying him.
Thousands of people had gathered all along the route showering flower petals on Shah as the "rath" wound its way in a delirious atmosphere. The road show,that began with party workers greeting Shah with a huge garland of apples, lasted about 40 minutes. Ahead of the "rath", BJP supporters sporting saffron turban and holding cutouts, placards and party flags danced to the drum beats, as slogans of 'Modi Modi' rent the air. Accompanying Shah were Yelahanka MLA S R Vishwanath and BJP national general secretary and Karnataka in charge P Muralidhar Rao.
Moily, a former union minister, is the joint candidate of the ruling Congress-JDS coalition. Gowda had lost against Moily in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a narrow margin of about 9,500 votes. Division of Vokkaliga votes was cited as the reason for Gowda's defeat in 2014, as Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who also hails from the same community, had contested from Chikkaballapura then and ended up in third place by garnering over three lakh votes. BJP and many of Gowda's supporters believe that they have an advantage this time as Vokkaliga votes will consolidate in their favour.
Moily will have to strongly depend on JD(S), that has the strong support of the Vokkaliga community, to retain the seat that has remained a Congress bastion. However, with animosity between workers of both parties in other constituencies of old Mysuru region like Mandya, Mysore and Hassan, it remains to be seen whether JD(S) workers will completely support Congress and BJP wishes to capitalise on this. Along with anti-incumbency, Moily is also facing dissidence within the Congress to his disadvantage, with several local leaders opposed to his candidacy, party sources said. There are 15 candidates in the fray in Chikkaballapura. Chikkaballapura has eight assembly segments, where Congress has its hold on five, JD(S) two and BJP on one.
(With inputs from agencies.)