Campaigning for Kerala and 1st phase Karnataka Lok Sabha polls ends today

In this second phase of Lok Sabha elections, 20 constituencies of Kerala and 14 constituencies of Karnataka will vote on 26 April.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 24, 2024 | 10:19 AMUpdatedApr 24, 2024 | 10:19 AM

lok sabha campaigning

With just a day left for the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls, in which the 20 constituencies of Kerala and 14 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka will vote, the fiercely competitive campaigns put up by political parties for over a month are set to draw to a close on Wednesday, 24 April.

A total of 194 candidates are vying for the 20 seats in Kerala, making the 26 April Lok Sabha polls a crucial battleground for the CPI (M)-led ruling LDF, the Congress-headed UDF and the BJP-led NDA.

Unlike in the previous general elections, the state of Kerala has experienced a highly active and aggressive campaign.

Read: CPI(M) leader booked for cyber campaign against Vadakara Cong candidate and MLA Shafi Parambil

First phase in Karnataka

Meanwhile, a total of 247 candidates —226 men and 21 women— are in the fray for this round of voting in most of the southern and coastal districts.

The state has a total of 28 Lok Sabha segments. The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in the northern districts, will go to polls on May 7.

It is a straight electoral contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) combine in Karnataka.

While the Congress is contesting in all 14 seats, BJP has fielded nominees in 11, and its alliance partner JD(S) in three— Hassan, Mandya and Kolar.

Besides the three, the segments where elections will be held on Friday are: Udupi-Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South and Chikkballapur.

The scorching summer heat did nothing to curb the vigour of the campaigns progressing across the state, which will reach their climax with massive road shows and rallies by candidates and the top leaders of their respective parties on Wednesday evening.

As the campaigning reaches a fever pitch, every political party strives to demonstrate its strength by bringing in maximum participation of workers and supporters to the final events of public campaigning.

On Thursday, 25 April, there will be a silent campaign before the state votes on Friday, 26 April.

Interview: Bangalore Central Congress candidate vows fight for city’s rights

Poll issues in Kerala

Diverse issues ranging from the implementation of the CAA, the alleged existence of ‘love jihad’, controversies surrounding The Kerala Story (2023) movie, the Manipur violence, Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad, and BJP’s declaration that it would change the name of Sultan Bathery to Ganapathy Vattom, as well as alleged appeasement of minorities by various political parties, dominated the high-decibel public campaigns.

National-level leaders from various political parties, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief JP Nadda from the BJP, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and P Chidambaram, as well as CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, have actively reached out to voters in Kerala.

PM Modi’s multiple visits to the state to address election rallies outlined the BJP’s hope and focus in Kerala, where they are yet to make inroads at the grassroots level and win a seat in the general elections.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly VD Satheesan travelled through the length and breadth of the state and addressed a host of poll rallies and meetings for their respective candidates.

During his vigorous campaigning in the state, Modi emphasised the development and welfare projects initiated by the Centre, along with his commitments to further engage with the people.

He also directed criticism towards the Congress party, particularly regarding Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from the Wayanad constituency in the state instead of his once traditional stronghold in Uttar Pradesh.

While addressing rallies, Gandhi, on the other hand, lambasted the BJP-led union government at the Centre, accusing them of attempting to implement the RSS agenda in the country.

Also Read: Congress moves EC against Karnataka BJP chief over remark on schemes

CAA, a major issue

Chief Minister Vijayan, however, sought to bring the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act to the forefront of his campaigning.

Alleging that the BJP government aimed at transforming India into a religious nation through the CAA, Vijayan also criticised the Congress and Rahul Gandhi for their alleged silence on the matter.

Throughout the campaigns, Vijayan continuously criticised Gandhi, who in turn indulged in a tit-for-tat.

The campaign was marred by allegations of cyber attacks and apprehensions about bogus voting in the Vatakara Lok Sabha seat, where two current MLAs — K K Shailaja of the CPI(M)-led LDF and Shafi Parambil of the Congress-led UDF — are fighting to win in the polls.

While the CPI(M) alleges that the UDF has launched a vicious cyber attack against Shailaja, who was the former health minister of the state, the Congress moved the Kerala High Court seeking action to prevent bogus voting in Vatakara in the Lok Sabha elections.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the UDF won 19 of the 20 seats, while the LDF had to settle for just a single seat.

Campaigning in Karnataka

The intense campaigning for the past month saw Modi and Amit Shah leading from the front for the BJP, holding rallies and roadshows. JP Nadda, some Union Ministers and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant too pitched in.

Veteran BJP leader and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and the party’s state president BY Vijayendra also campaigned extensively.

Congress president M Mallikarjun Kharge, senior leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar and Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy were among the prominent names who led the charge for the party.

And for the JD(S), it was the 90-year-old party patriarch and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who led the campaign.

Chikkaballapur has a maximum number of 29 candidates, followed by 24 in Bangalore Central and Dakshina Kannada has the least number – nine.

Kumaraswamy from Mandya, his brother-in-law and noted cardiologist C N Manjunath from Bangalore Rural on a BJP ticket, erstwhile Mysuru royal family scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar from Mysore, also from the BJP, and state Congress President Shivakumar’s brother and MP D K Suresh from Bangalore Rural, are among the prominent candidates in the fray in the first phase.

(With PTI inputs)