Karnataka: No ST rally, Rahul Gandhi to launch general poll campaign

Ballari: Congress president Rahul Gandhi  could virtually kick off the party’s campaign for the coming assembly poll at the mega rally he is scheduled to address in  Hosapete town on February 10, going by party sources.

According to Mr  Gandhi’s official itinerary, he will flag off a yatra by those who have benefited from the  special status given to Hyderabad-Karnataka under Article 371J of the Constitution, but the rally will no longer be specific to the scheduled tribes as announced.

The decision to call it a “general poll campaign rally” has, however, upset scheduled tribe leaders in the party, particularly  AICC secretary, Satish Jarakiholi and his brother and Minister,  Ramesh Jarakiholi.

“The Jarkiholi brothers see this change in the rally’s name as an  attempt by a section of party leaders to cut them to size”, said a Congress ST leader. Minister Ramesh Jarakiholi along with MLC, V.S. Ugrappa and Raichur Lok Sabha member, B V Nayaka were preparing to launch an “ ST rally” at Hosapete until last week, but are now having to distance themselves from it reportedly because a section of leaders from the district informed AICC general secretary in- charge of  Karnataka, K K Venugopal that it would be difficult to mobilise around two lakh people of the community to attend it.

“Later there was a discussion in the party on organising a Shoshita Vargadavara Samavesh rally of oppressed communities and this was  endorsed by senior leader, Mallikarjun Kharge. But this too was changed into a general poll rally on the ground that Mr  Gandhi is coming to the state for the first time since taking over as president and he should kick- start the party’s election campaign”, said a senior leader of the party in the district.

When contacted, Mr K P Palaiah, president of the ST wing of the KPCC claimed the name of the rally had been changed as BJP MLA B.S. Anand Singh, Kudligi MLA B Nagendra, Hagaribommanahalli JD(S) MLA, Bheema Naik and other  leaders were joining the Congress on the occasion.

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