Yogi Adityanath flagged off BJP's Parivartana Yatra in North Karnataka's Hubbali with BS Yeddyurappa.
After the BJP victory in Gujarat assembly elections, Yogi Adityanath, one of the party's top drawer campaigners, set the tone for the assembly polls in Karnataka that will be held early next year. The saffron-robed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh flagged off the BJP's Parivartana Yatra in North Karnataka's Hubbali on Thursday with a scathing attack on the Congress government and pitched Lord Hanuman against Tipu Sultan. The birth anniversary celebrations of the 18th Century ruler had triggered a huge controversy and protests in the state and resulted in the deaths of two persons two year ago.
Calling Karnataka "the land of Hanuman" that was ruled by the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire, Yogi Adityanath said it was unfortunate that the Congress, "instead of worshipping Hanuman and Vijayanagar, was worshiping Tipu Sultan... If Karnataka dismisses Congress in one go, no one else will come to worship Tipu Sultan".
The right-wing activists see Tipu Sultan as a bigoted tyrant who forcefully converted thousands. But his birth anniversary celebrations have been celebrated for two consecutive years by the Siddaramaiah government, which hails him as one of the earliest freedom fighters.
Yogi Adityanath accused the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government of neglecting law and order in the state, saying the "brutal killings" of BJP workers signify a "state of anarchy".
The Parivartana Yatra will be led by BS Yeddyurappa, who has been named the BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate. It is one of the rare instances when the BJP has named a chief ministerial candidate, instead of projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governance model.
The BJP had lost power in Karnataka, the first state in south India it ruled, in 2008. The term of the BJP government was marked by controversy, with Mr Yeddyurappa, who was then the Chief Minister, being forced to step down because of corruption allegations.
This time, the BJP hopes to recapture power with its Mission 150 - winning 150 of the state's 224 seats. The state BJP chief Muralidhar Rao said the party's fifth consecutive victory in Gujarat will have a direct impact on the coming assembly elections.
After the Gujarat victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a pit-stop at Mangaluru on way to visit Lakshadweep, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which had been hit by the cyclone Ochki. Several thousands of supporters had come to meet him at the airport and then had followed him to the Circuit House.