Amit Shah to launch BJP’s campaign at Nava Karnataka Parivarthana Rally today

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Bengaluru: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah on Thursday will flag off the “Nava Karnataka Parivarthana Rally”, a 75-day tour across Karnataka led by its state president B.S.Yeddyurappa. With this, the BJP will officially launch the campaign of the party for the 2018 assembly elections in the state.

The rally, in which Yeddyurappa and other senior state and central leaders will participate, will start its journey from Bengaluru and cover almost 200 places across the entire state and return to the city on 28 January.

The rally, among other issues, will highlight the shortcomings of the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government that routed BJP’s first stint in the state from 2008-2013, reducing it to just 40 seats in the 2013 elections from 110 in the previous polls.

The Karnataka assembly elections are crucial for the BJP as it looks to expand its presence in south Indian states, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The polls are also important for 74-year-old former chief minister Yeddyurappa, who is seeking re-election and is named to lead the party again.

The rally would also attempt to put behind factionalism within the top leadership that had weakened the attacks against Siddaramaiah, whose popularity has soared in recent months mostly due to his populist policies centered around food security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tore into the Congress party during his visit to the state on Sunday, is expected to be part of the event to be held on 28 January, when the 75-day rally returns to Bengaluru.

Yeddyurappa on Tuesday said that the party is expecting around 300,000 party workers to attend the rally on Thursday and even as it tours major cities of the state.

The party will have a convoy of vehicles led by a recreational vehicle (RV)—specially designed and built at a cost of around Rs90 lakh—equipped with facilities like a war room, TV viewing, public address system, resting area and toilets.

Continuing its bike-bound worker processions since its controversial “Mangaluru Chalo” rally in September, Yeddyurappa said that at least three two-wheelers will make their way from each booth of the party to large rallies, including the one to be held in Bengaluru.

However, the party has been denied permission to hold any such rally or pass through Kodagu district—about 250 km from Bengaluru—that was listed on its original travel route as it falls just two days before Tipu (Sultan) Jayanti.

The decision to observe Tipu Jayanti on 10 October (since 2015) resulted in clashes—owing to the conflicting versions of how the 18th century ruler treated Hindus during his rule—between members of Hindu right wing groups and Muslim groups in regions like Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu. Both the regions are said to be communally sensitive.