It is a battle between the dwindling electoral success of the Congress party versus the BJP's election machine, which rules most of the state governments in India. And historically, whenever the Congress’ first family has felt threatened to contest from its pocket borough - Amethi, the leaders have turned to Karnataka.
On Friday, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah tweeted out the party leaders' wish for Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka. "Karnataka has always supported and encouraged Congress leaders. It has been proved in case of Smt. Indira ji and Smt. Sonia ji. We also want our next Prime Minister of India Shri. Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka and herald new developmental paradigm," Siddaramaiah said.
Karnataka has always supported & encouraged @INCIndia leaders. It has been proved in case of Smt. Indira ji & Smt. Sonia ji.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 15, 2019
We also want our next Prime Minister of India Shri. @RahulGandhi to contest from Karnataka & herald new developmental paradigm.#RaGaFromKarnataka
Soon #RaGaFromKarnataka began trending as Congress leaders began urging Rahul Gandhi to contest from the state. Karnataka Pradesh Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao too joined the bandwagon. "On behalf of Karnataka Congress, I urge Rahul Gandhi to consider contesting from Karnataka for the forthcoming Lok Sabha Election 2019. He should also be our representative from South India for that he should choose my state," Dinesh Gundu Rao said.
On behalf of @INCKarnataka I urge @RahulGandhi to consider contesting from Karnataka for the forthcoming #LokSabhaElection2019.— Dinesh Gundu Rao / ದಿನೇಶ್ ಗುಂಡೂರಾವ್ (@dineshgrao) March 15, 2019
He should also be our representative from South India & for that he should choose my state.#RaGaFromKarnataka pic.twitter.com/Jk4ALMMLKK
Two important leaders Indira Gandhi & Sonia Gandhi have contested from the state, tasted success & helped India move forward! In this spirit of development, we say yes to #RaGaFromKarnataka for #Elections2019.— Dr. G Parameshwara (@DrParameshwara) March 15, 2019
K'taka will be proud to be the state represented by our future PM!
Congress insiders say that Rahul Gandhi is being persuaded to contest from one of the South Indian states and bank on the anti-Modi sentiment. "It will have to be Karnataka but Rahul Gandhi is also being persuaded by Tamil Nadu Congress to contest from there as the anti-Modi wave is strong in the state. However, if he contests from Karnataka, it will give the party a boost as it would become difficult for the BJP candidates to win," the Congress source said.
This is not the first time a member of the Gandhi family has turned to Karnataka in times of need. In the 1977 Lok Sabha Election, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India was routed facing massive anti-incumbency following Emergency. She, however, turned to the quaint hill station and the coffee estates of Chikkamagaluru to (meaning little daughter’s town) return to Parliament in the 1978 bye-elections. With the slogan, “Give your vote to your little daughter”, Indira Gandhi was re-elected as Parliamentarian, defeating her Janata Party rival - Veerendra Patil.
In 1999, when the General Elections were held soon after the Kargil War, apprehensions were high regarding Sonia Gandhi's victory in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi. Sonia Gandhi chose to contest from Amethi and Ballari, which had been a Congress bastion in Lok Sabha polls. Her rival was BJP’s Sushma Swaraj. The election campaign saw the BJP calling Sonia Gandhi a “videshi”, while Sushma Swaraj was projected as the “swadeshi”. The then Congress National President, however, ended up winning both the seats.