Back where it all began: Rahul Gandhi to launch nationwide campaign from Kolar against disqualification

KPCC chief DK Shivakumar said that May 10 — the day of polling — will be an auspicious day to build a new and global Karnataka.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Mar 29, 2023 | 9:16 PMUpdatedMar 29, 2023 | 9:17 PM

D K Shivakumar Rahul Gandhi

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will launch a nationwide campaign called Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) from poll-bound Karnataka’s Kolar district on 5 April.

The campaign is against the BJP, especially after he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.

Kolar is significant since this is where Rahul made the controversial remark during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign.

“Rahul Gandhi will start the campaigning from the same place where he had spoken the truth for which he has been convicted. This campaign is titled Satyameva Jayate,” said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president DK Shivakumar.

“National leaders, including AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, will be present for its launch,” he added.

Shivakumar informed reporters of the campaign on Wednesday, 29 March, a few hours after the Election Commission announced 10 May as the date of the state’s Assembly elections.

The Lok Sabha secretariat disqualified Gandhi, who represented Kerala’s Wayanad constituency, on 23 March, a day after a court in Surat, Gujarat, convicted and sentenced him in a 2019 criminal defamation case.

“The party’s central leadership has been planning to launch a nationwide campaign against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament. We requested the high command to start it from Kolar and they have agreed,” Shivakumar said.

No Gandhi family, no unity

Shivakumar said Rahul Gandhi would continue to speak the truth.

“He is least bothered about the disqualification or jail or getting bail. His grandmother (former prime minister Indira Gandhi) and father (former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi) gave their lives to this nation,” he said.

The Surat court awarded Gandhi a two-year jail term.

Shivakumar said when the then-President APJ Abdul Kalam invited former AICC chief Sonia Gandhi to form the government in 2004, “she declined and allowed economist Manmohan Singh to serve this country for two terms”.

“This is the sacrifice of the Gandhi family. Without the Gandhi family, the Congress will not be united, and without the Congress, the country cannot be united. Rahul Gandhi will launch the nationwide campaign against the government from Karnataka on 5 April,” he asserted.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma lashed out at the Union government for disqualifying Rahul Gandhi.

“Democracy is under threat under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi regime. Rahul Gandhi has been targeted because he asked Modi about business tycoon Gautam Adani,” the Congress leader said.

Also read: ‘My name is not Savarkar, won’t apologise,’ says Rahul Gandhi 

Siddaramaiah’s seat(s)

On Siddaramaiah apparently expressing willingness to contest from two Assembly seats in Mysuru on Wednesday, Shivakumar said the Central Election Committee (CEC) would make a final decision on the matter.

The first list of candidates released on 25 March named Siddaramaiah to contest from Varuna, his home constituency, which he represented for two consecutive terms. He also expressed willingness to contest for a second seat.

“I have received an application only for the Varuna Assembly segment from Siddaramaiah. He has paid ₹2 lakh. He opted for the Varuna seat and the CEC gave him a ticket. If there is anything else, the CEC will take a final call,” Shivakumar said.

In the 2018 Assembly polls, Siddaramaiah contested from two seats: Mysuru’s Chamundeshwari and Bagalkot’s Badami.

While he won in Badami, he lost in Chamundeshwari — a segment he had represented four times in the Assembly.

Meanwhile, there are rumours that he might also contest from either Kolar or Badami. Siddaramaiah earlier said that he had received invitations from his followers in 25 Assembly constituencies.

’10 May an auspicious day’

Earlier, Shivakumar exuded confidence that the Congress would independently come back to power in Karnataka.

“10 May will be an auspicious day to build a new and global Karnataka,” he said after the polling date was announced.

“10 May is not just a polling day but also the day to dethrone the corrupt and 40 percent commission BJP government. It is also the day to give a new direction to Karnataka and to replace the failed double-engine government with a new engine,” he said.

“It is also the day on which the grand-old party will come to power and shape the lives of people of the state. The Congress will get the majority to form the government without striking an alliance with anyone,” the KPCC chief further said.

Also read: Contractors to re-appeal on 40% commission allegation

KPCC welcomes single-phase poll

Shivakumar opined that the Election Commission should have announced the poll date earlier. “The election code of conduct should have been in place much earlier.”

He alleged: “The Union and state governments delayed the announcement of the poll date to misuse power as much as possible.”

However, he welcomed the decision to conduct the polls in a single phase.

Shivakumar refuted Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s statement that the Congress and the JD(S) had held a secret meeting in Hyderabad to discuss the possibility of forming an alliance government.

“This is far from the truth. We don’t need any alliance. The party will come to power on its own. We have struck a deal only with the people, not with political parties.”

“I am shocked to hear the statement of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy that the Congress and BJP will get 80 seats each and the remaining seats to his party in the May 10 polls. I don’t think Karnataka will witness a hung Assembly. We will win 140 seats,” Shivakumar asserted.

Also read: BJP sees its fortunes swing in Old Mysore region

Shivakumar defends cash distribution

Meanwhile, Shivakumar came under fire after he was caught on camera showering ₹500 currency notes from the roof of a bus during the Prajadhwani Yatra at Bevinahalli in Mandya’s Srirangapatna on Wednesday.

BJP national general secretary CT Ravi tweeted that the authorities have found a huge amount of cash from Shivakumar’s residence.

Responding, Shivakumar said he had not offered money to any voter. “As per the Indian custom, when a woman does an aarti or puts a tilak on you, you tip them. It is our tradition.”

He added: “I was on the roof of the bus. So, I just dropped that money, which was around ₹2,000. There were a lot of women who were performing aarti. I am not a fool. I know my responsibilities. Some of them want to keep me in the limelight. I wish them all the best.”