Advani, Rajnath to kick off BJP campaign for Karnataka poll

Bangalore, March 30 (IANS) BJP president Rajnath Singh and senior leaders L. K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will kick off the ruling party’s campaign for the May 5 Karnataka assembly poll at a rally here April 8, the party said Saturday.

“The rally will show Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) strength,” Higher Education Minister C.T. Ravi told reporters giving details public meeting and the names of the central party leaders attending it.

The rally is being organized two days ahead of opening of nominations for the elections to the 225-member assembly that includes one nominated member. The nominations close April 17 and vote count is May 8.

The state BJP unit, which Saturday began district-wise candidate selection, has been holding “Vijay Sankalp Yatras” (rally to pledge victory) in different parts of the state in preparation for the Bangalore show of strength.

While BJP started candidate selection process in Bangalore, the Congress has been grappling with it since Monday in New Delhi as the party’s state unit has received over 2,000 applications for tickets.

State Congress president G. Parameshwara, who has been in Delhi since Monday along with other state leaders, told reporters that the names would be announced in April first week.

“I cannot give a definite date. We may release the list of names in two parts,” he said.

The BJP too would be releasing the names in the first week of April after completing discussion with party leaders in all the 30 districts of the state.

State BJP president Pralhad Joshi, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and other senior state party leaders along with a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh representative are holding meetings in Bangalore with district unit heads.

“We are meeting our district unit leaders to select the candidates,” Shettar told reporters ahead of the meeting.

Shettar declined to indicate when the names would be announced, though several state leaders had said that it would be in April’s first week.

Indications are that all parties – the BJP, the Congress, the Janata Dal-Secular and new outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) headed by former BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa, would release most of the names only after nomination process start April 10.

This is to minimize rebel candidates in the field as many of those denied tickets jump into the electoral battle as independents denting the prospects of the official nominee.

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