Even as the BJP and Congress held mega rallies in Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular) took its turn to enter the political arena with ‘Vikasa Parva’, its first major public rally of the 2018 election season held in Yelahanka on Saturday.
JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy shared the dais with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, who was addressing her first public rally since her defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
In a sudden development, a pre-poll alliance was signed by Mayawati’s right hand man and MP Satishchandra Mishra and JD(S) National Secretary Danish Ali Baig last week and the rally, which was earlier set to be held in Davangere, was shifted to Bengaluru, presumably to compete with BJP and Congress’ show of strength in the city.
While all roads led to Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology on Saturday evening, traffic on the roads in Yelahanka was brought to a standstill, delaying the start of the rally. Several people took to Twitter to reveal that they had missed their flights due to the traffic jam as the rally venue fell on the road to the Bengaluru International Airport.
Missed flight frm #Bengaluru airport now coz #JDS Yelhanka rally blocked d #traffic 4 45mins. When wud politicians grow up?— Kutts (@kiranjosephp) February 17, 2018
Surprised no news channel is showing this.#india #politics #Senseless @dhanyarajendran - Hope some1 shows the plight of ppl in IT capital. pic.twitter.com/ovDAXVtNSU
However, that did not deter thousands of JD(S) supporters from parking their vehicles on the roads and making a beeline for the venue on foot, walking past large cut outs of JD(S) leaders that dotted the stretch, leading up to the venue.
Even Kumaraswamy decided to walk the last 2 km to enter the venue.
The rally began at 6:30 pm with a plea by Kumaraswamy asking people to be patient and wait till the end of the rally, even as several supporters who gathered had already begun leaving.
Mayawati addressed the crowd and lashed out at the failures of the BJP-Congress duopoly in the country. “Whether it is Rohit Vemula or the uprising in Una or the atrocities on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh, the injustices done to Dalits in India is not hidden,” she said.
She further said that the Congress was playing the AHINDA card by appeasing Dalits and adivasis with tricks and false hopes while the BJP created an atmosphere of fear by playing caste and religion politics.
She also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi in her speech. “Prime Minister Modi has failed to convert the black money stashed abroad into 15 lakh in every poor family’s income as he had promised. He is also humiliating the unemployed and the poor by asking them to sell pakodas. People of Karnataka should ensure that they prevent both these parties from coming to power," she added.
HD Deve Gowda meanwhile chose to focus his speech on the distress of farmers in Karnataka. “If you go to Chitradurga, Davangere, Channarayapattana you will see that the crops have severely failed and farmers are suffering. We have even produced photographic proof to the Agriculture Minister, but to no avail. It is time to take back the power in our hands,” he said.
Kumaraswamy reiterated Deve Gowda’s words by stressing on the farmer crisis in the state. “We constantly read about incidents of farmer suicides in the state. We need to respond and prevent this. We need to ensure farmers are well compensated,” he said.
All three leaders tried to position the JD(S) as an alternative to the tried and tested duopoly in Karnataka. The party has historically enjoyed mixed fortunes with Kumaraswamy at the helm as Chief Minister of Karnataka for twenty months in a coalition formed with the support of the BJP.
Insiders in the party told TNM that a section of leaders who were rallying for an alliance with the BJP again were unhappy with the decision to form the pre-poll alliance with BSP, which will now contest for 20 seats in 14 districts.
The party won 40 seats in the 2013 assembly elections, the same number as the BJP.
By mobilising party workers and supporters at the rally on Saturday and by jumping ahead of Congress and BJP to release the list of candidates standing in the elections, JD(S) hopes to once again disrupt the Congress-BJP duopoly in the state.
But while both the Congress and the BJP have already swung into election-mode with massive public rallies, JD(S) is only now entering the fray and it remains to be seen if they can turn the election into a three-horse race.