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Karnataka: Local ‘stars’ fail to glitter in closely fought elections

‘Star campaigners’ are a highlight of this year’s elections with several stalwarts facing a challenge in their own constituencies have largely stuck to their own constituencies rather than campaigning for candidates across the state.

Most candidates are perspiring it out to convince voters to support them with no visible wave in favor of any party less than 72 hours before polling.

HM Ramesh Gowda,  Bengaluru city president of JD(S) said, “Except for a handful, no candidate is having it easy this time. Many seniors, who used to travel across the state, do not want to take a chance.”

Who are star campaigners?

Election rules state that a recognized party can designate 40 people, including functionaries contesting polls and nonpoliticians like movie stars, as star campaigners. They are allowed to campaign across constituencies and their expenses are not added to the candidate’s account. The election expense of an individual candidate is capped at Rs 40 lakh.

The list of BJP star campaigners includes five candidates — chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (Shiggaon), national general secretary CT Ravi (Chikkamagaluru), R Ashoka (Padmanabhanagar and Kanakapura), B Sriramulu (Ballari Rural) and Govind Karjol (Mudhol) — besides Aravind Limbavali, whose wife Manjula is contesting from Mahadevapura in Bengaluru. These functionaries were expected to campaign extensively across the state as they have considerable sway in other seats too.

Also read: Cong says ‘Blatant Lies’, BJP will sincerely develop Karnataka: PM Modi in Shivamogga

However, while Ashokawas is tied down in Kanakapura where he is up against state Congress president DK Shivakumar, Limbavali and Ravi face a serious anti-incumbency wave.

“It is true that I am stuck in my constituency, and I have taken the contest seriously, but the reason why I am not traveling is a surgery I underwent recently for kidney stones. A stent has been placed and I have been advised against extensive travel,” said Ravi.

The bulk of ‘star campaigns’ were led by BJP’s central leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and others from the central government, apart from UP CM Yogi Adityanath.

Congress had designated eight candidates as star campaigners — Shivakumar, former CM Siddaramaiah (Varuna), former CM Jagadish Shettar (Hubballi-Dharwad Central), former DyCM G Parameshwara (Koratagere), former MP KH Muniyappa (Devanahalli), Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout) BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan (Chamarajpet) and Roopa Shashidhar (KGF).

Siddaramaiah was expected to campaign extensively across the state and had even planned to embark on the second leg of the ‘Prajadhwani’ bus yatra. However, he was largely confined to Varuna where he faces housing minister V Somanna. BJP also deployed a team of 10 poll experts in a bid to wrest the seat, and Shah himself campaigned there.

“BJP is investing large sums of money and muscle power in Varuna. Siddaramaiah is devoting more time to Varuna as he wants to win by a big margin. That said, Siddaramaiah campaigned in north Karnataka and other districts in Old Mysuru,” said KPCC general secretary BS Shivanna.

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy is among JD(S) star campaigners. He too has had little time to campaign elsewhere and focused largely on Ramanagara from where is contesting.

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