Karnataka Battle Hots Up As Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi Return To Campaign

While the Congress is keen on retaining Karnataka, a state it wrested from the BJP in 2013, the BJP is eyeing a comeback in the only state it ruled in south India

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Karnataka Battle Hots Up As Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi Return To Campaign

At an election rally in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi launched an attack on the Prime Minister

Bengaluru: 

Highlights

  1. Rahul Gandhi's campaign focuses on Lingayat community in Karnataka
  2. Amit Shah to visit family of farmer who committed suicide in Bidar
  3. BJP is keen on winning at least 150 of Karnataka's 224 assembly seats
With just months to go before the Karnataka assembly elections, the party chiefs of the BJP and the Congress returned to the state on Saturday for the second leg of campaigning. Both Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi will be in Karnataka for three days.

While the Congress is keen on retaining the state it wrested from the BJP in 2013, the BJP is eyeing a comeback in the only state it ruled in south India.

Mr Shah's tour will include a visit to the family of a farmer who committed suicide in Bidar. He will also meet sugarcane farmers who have faced distress with the water intensive crop in a state that has been through three successive years of drought. The BJP is keen on winning at least 150 of Karnataka's 224 assembly seats.

Mr Gandhi will mostly focus on what's considered the Lingayat heartland. Lingayats account for nearly 18 per cent of the voters and form the mainstay of the BJP's support base. They had switched loyalties in the last assembly polls, as former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, himself a Lingayat, had quit the BJP and formed his own party, thereby eating into the BJP vote. But this time he's back with the BJP as its chief ministerial face.

The campaign has so far been bitter, with allegations of communal and political murders and charges of large-scale corruption from both sides.

Earlier this week, Mr Shah lashed out at the state government, calling it the "most corrupt ever" in the country and accusing it of playing "appeasement politics". Before that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the Congress government of being a "10 per cent commission" government. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hit back, accusing PM Modi of a running a "90 per cent commission government".

Addressing a rally in the state on Saturday, Mr Gandhi attacked PM Modi once again, demanding answers for the multi-thousand crore banking fraud linked to celebrity designer Nirav Modi. Mr Gandhi also invoked Basaveshwara, the 12th century social reformer from Karnataka who is revered by the Lingayats.

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