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Crisscrossing Karnataka for Poll Campaign, Rahul Gandhi Creates a New Record

No Congress president has been to so many districts in decades, say party leaders in Karnataka. They also say that it is a record for the president of any national political party to visit every district in a major and a vast state like Karnataka.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:April 27, 2018, 5:23 PM IST
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Crisscrossing Karnataka for Poll Campaign, Rahul Gandhi Creates a New Record
File photo: Rahul Gandhi, who is on the seventh leg of campaigning in Karnataka ahead of the Assembly election on May 12, took a chopper from Hubli to Ankola and continued with his scheduled rallies on Thursday. (PTI Photo)
Bengaluru: When Rahul Gandhi’s private helicopter landed at Gonikoppa in Kodagu district on Friday afternoon, he created a record of sorts in the history of Karnataka Assembly elections. He became the first Congress president to visit all 30 districts in the state during an election campaign.

Gandhi, who had kicked off his Karnataka election tour from Bellary almost 100 days ago, has crisscrossed the entire state. From the coast to the hills, northern plains to southern plains and all major cities and big towns in between have had a glimpse of him.

He mostly travelled by a special bus and easily mingled with the people. He took a bus ride from Bellary to Gulbarga, covering a distance of over 400 km and holding public and corner meetings at several places. His first leg was a success and the party decided to stick to the same formula.

In February, he toured Lingayat dominated Mumbai–Karnataka region, comprising seven districts, again in a bus. Helicopters were also used occasionally. In the third, fourth and fifth legs also Gandhi mostly used a bus to travel the length and breadth of the state.

According to Karnataka state Congress’ working president Dinesh Gundurao, he has already covered almost 3500 km but is still full of energy. “He inspires both party leaders and workers. He leads us from the front. Wherever Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the last three months, we have got a very good response,” he said.

No Congress president has been to so many districts in decades, say party leaders in Karnataka. They also say that it is a record for the president of any national political party to visit every district in a major and a vast state like Karnataka.

His temple run has also been a big hit among Congress supporters. He has visited over 20 big temples and Mutts during his Karnataka tour, deftly playing a devout Hindu card.

“The BJP was spreading rumours that Rahul Gandhi is lazy, he can’t do hard work, he is not for Hindus etc. But Rahul Gandhi has proved them wrong. The BJP and RSS lies have been exposed. They are now rattled by the response he is getting all over Karnataka,” said a senior leader of the Congress.

Unlike in the past, Gandhi is now also using technology to connect with people. All his tours and rallies were beamed live on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. His Hindi speeches were also translated into Kannada by a senior leader of the party at every rally.

“We literally forced Congress and BJP to go for a translator. Earlier, they used to address us in Hindi, which most people don’t understand in Karnataka. They used to take us for granted. The Congress has now realized its mistake and all speeches of Rahul Gandhi are translated into Kannada. Even Amit Shah’s speeches are translated at many places. But Modi’s speeches are not,” said Arun Javagal, a new-age Kannada activist and a software professional.

The Congress chief has also met block Congress and district party presidents in each district and discussed the poll scenario. “He tried to endear himself to the cadre and local level leaders. It was not the case earlier. We are happy with this. We can frankly exchange our views with him. He listens to us and takes decisions,” said a district Congress president.

The party men explain that after Gujarat Assembly elections, they are seeing a different Rahul Gandhi, who is fully charged and ready to do leg-work for the Congress. Whether the support he is getting gets translated into votes for the Congress will be answered soon.

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