Congress is all set to launch the second phase of the padayatra on Mekedatu from February 27 to March 3.
Aiming at consolidating dominant Vokkaliga community votes in the southern Karnataka districts before the election, the party wants to dent the image of the ruling party by highlighting that despite a double engine government both at the state and at the Centre, the BJP is unable to implement the project.
The Mekedatu padayatra generated a movement for the Congress, when it was launched at the peak of Covid third wave. Despite the threat of Omicron, thousands of people participated in the protest march and it went on to become a success. However, after the intervention of the court, the leaders agreed to postpone it.
Mekedatu padayatra has been taken up by the Congress party demanding immediate commencement of the drinking water project at Mekedatu by the ruling BJP government. The balancing reservoir is intended to supply Cauvery water to Bengaluru and surrounding districts for drinking water purposes.
D.K. Shivakumar, State Congress President, hailing from Vokkaliga community, was given a rousing welcome in all villages and party sources stated that it helped polarisation of Vokkaliga vote bank towards Congress. Though the padayatra is being launched under collective leadership of Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, the padayatra is intended to project Shivakumar as the leader of Vokkaliga community. Presently, the Vokkaliga masses identify themselves with former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of JD (S).
The party is launching padayatra in the regions known as Vokkaliga corridor in southern Karnataka. It will be launched on February 27 from Ramnagar and reach Bengaluru. Shivakumar, who has taken up the initiative, has already started conducting meetings in Mandya, Tumakuru and other districts for the success of Mekedatu padayatra.
The padayatra will conclude at the National College Grounds on March 3. The party is planning a massive concluding ceremony on the day. Randeep Surjewala, Karnataka Congress in-charge, will inaugurate the padayatra. Mallikarjun Kharge, Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha is also expected to take part in the inaugural function.
Already more than 10,000 people have registered themselves forthe event. The party has appealed to all organisations, cutting across the party line to participate in the agitation as the endeavour is to provide clean drinking water to more than 2 crores of people, including Bengaluru city.
With the huge organisational capacity of Shivakumar, Mekedatu padayatra 2.0 is expected to attract huge masses. It will be taken out from each assembly constituency of the Bengaluru to enable the Congress to reach out to people of the capital city. However, party sources explain that the party would be able to reap the benefits only if Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah bury their hatchets and find a middle path.