Fight polls from K’taka: Siddaramaiah to Rahul

BENGALURU: While the Congress central election panel is to meet on Saturday to finalise the party’s Lok Sabha candidates for Karnataka, there’s been a clamour for All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi to contest from a seat in the state since Friday, with KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao and former chief minister Siddaramaiah leading the brigade.

According to Congress sources, the idea to invite Rahul or sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest from Karnataka had been discussed long ago keeping in mind the attention the late PM Indira Gandhi and Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi got when they contested from Chikkamagaluru (1978) and Ballari (1999) Lok Sabha seats, respectively .

Interestingly, both contested two decades apart and it would be 20 years after Sonia if Rahul were to indeed contest in Karnataka. Sources said Rahul had reportedly declined the proposal when it was mooted to him earlier. However, the voices grew louder on Friday on social media under the handle #RaGafromKarnataka with Siddaramaiah tweeting: “We want our next Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka and herald new developmental paradigm.”

Karnataka has always supported INC leaders and it has been proved in Indiraji and Soniaji. ”KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao told TOI the demand for Rahul to contest from here started after he mentioned it in his poll campaign speech in Chamarajanagar on Friday. “I said why not Rahul contest from Karnataka and why not now is the debate?” he said. Rahul will be in in Kalaburagi on March 18, a day after the party would have finalised candidates for most constituencies.
Party sources said the idea to bring Rahul here came up after Narendra Modi contested from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Vadodara in Gujarat, won both and went on to become Prime Minister in 2014.
“If Rahul were to contest from Karnataka, it would infuse confidence among the workers and brighten the prospects of our candidates,” they added. Rahul Gandhi had won from Amethi against Union minister Smriti Irani by a margin of 1.07 lakh votes in 2014 and by 3.7 lakh votes in 2009.
State Youth Congress president Basanagouda Badarali, an aspirant for the Koppal Lok Sabha seat, said Rahul contesting from a seat in North Karnataka would help the party.

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