Rahul Gandhi who has addressed over 3 rallies in Karnataka ahead of the elections may have managed to change the fortunes of his party to an extent in the rural belts. However what he has failed to do is quell the rebellion within the Congress. Narendra Modi on the other hand addressed two major rallies in Bangalore and Mangalore. While the prospects of the BJP may not have changed in the entire state as a result of the two visits, it did have an impact in at least these two cities and the neighbouring areas, the BJP feels.
Rahul Gandhi’s rallies generate a lot of curiosity as he is part of the Nehru-Gandhi family. In rural Karnataka many go to see him only due to this reason and they are open about why they are at the rally. They speak more about his colour and identify him as the grand son of Indira Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi was at a slight advantage through out the campaign. The elections started off on a trend in favour of his party. Moreover due to infighting in the BJP, there was bound to be a negative vote against the party. Rahul did manage to capitalise on it and the Congress is quite happy with his performance in Karnataka.
However where Rahul failed was on the rebellion front. It was pretty ironic for the Congress to lose the advantage it had at the start of the elections and this is thanks to the major rebellion. Rahul Gandhi made several calls to his leaders to remain united. There were crack teams set up to ensure that the rebellion ends, but has Rahul succeeded in putting an end to the problem. One may say no.
Take his recent rally at Mandya the constituency from where rebel star, M H Ambareesh is contesting the elections. The Congress is desperate to win this seat and with the JD(S) giving them a tough fight, they decided to rope in Rahul to address one rally here. Ambareesh clearly has a problem with S M Krishna and the two do not see eye to eye. In fact Krishna despite being from the neighbouring Maddur town did not campaign for Ambareesh. Desperate attempts to strike peace between the two leaders have failed miserably.
During the Rahul rally at Mandya, Ambareesh who is the candidate from the same place refuse to sit on the stage. It was said that he was peeved with the fact that Krishna was on stage. There were several attempts made by the Congress to convince him. However Ambareesh refused to budge. He even went a step ahead and told his wife Sumalatha to address the gathering.
Ambareesh however denies any rift and says that the reason he did not go on to the stage is because the elections commission would have billed him for that programme. The programme cost was Rs 50 lakh and if the EC felt it was his event then the amount would have been added to his election expense.
Rahul’s task does not end with the campaign. There are problems galore ahead for the Congress in case it wins the elections with a majority. In case of a coalition there is really not much in their hand and they would have to listen to that party on which it relies for support. In case of a majority there is expected to be a war between G Parameshwar and Siddaramaiah and in case Rahul is unable to sort it out then it would be a clear two way split for the Congress and the dissidence could be worse than what we witnessed during the BJP rule of five years.
The Congress is however confident that these issues would be sorted out. The rallies by Rahul Gandhi have done wonders for us and there is no need to make a big deal over small issues which are part of every party, says G Parameshwar, the state Congress chief. The BJP says that Modi has changed their fortunes, but I would point out that he cannot cover up for what the BJP has one here.