The ‘padayatra launched by the Congress in Karnataka demanding speedy implementation of the Mekedatu project has gathered momentum as people in large numbers are participating in the programme amid the shadow of the third Covid wave.
State Congress President D.K. Shivakumar, who has challenged the ruling BJP in the state, is also expected to get a much-needed push in his political career.
The BJP has suffered a setback as in spite of imposing curfew orders, it could not stop the Congress from going ahead with the padayatra.
Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, though belonging to warring factions, have buried their hatchets and joined hands to make the padayatra a success.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Home Minister Araga Jnanendra seem to have gone into a defensive mode, issuing statements of holding Congress leaders responsible if the padayatra becomes a reason for the spread of Covid-19.
Though state is witnessing a rapid surge in the number of Covid cases, Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah clarified in a joint statement that they are committed to go ahead with the padayatra, galvanising the spirits of Congress workers with Shivakumar and his brother and Congress MP D.K. Suresh bringing Congress workers in thousands.
Suresh is one of the two Congress MPs who managed to register victory in the last Parliamentary elections, as the BJP swept all the other seats in Karnataka.
Political pundits have said that Shivakumar will emerge as a more powerful leader after the padayatra.
Shivakumar, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community, has been struggling to establish himself as the unquestionable leader of the community. Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and his father H.D. Deve Gowda continue to dominate the mindset of the community.
However, Shivakumar will take a leap towards challenging the supremacy of the father and son duo after the padayatra. The rousing welcome Shivakumar is getting in the rural belts during the padayatra has also caused worries to Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda.
The JD (S) has already planned to launch a ‘Janata Jaladhare’ programme demanding the implementation of all the pending irrigation related projects in the state from January 26.
The BJP still remains a divided house as aspirants are desperately waiting for a cabinet reshuffle which is said to take place after the Sankranti festival (January 14).
However, sources in the party are saying that the cabinet reshuffle is likely to happen only after the Assembly elections in five states, as party seniors are busy there.
The Congress is steadily challenging the ruling BJP on various issues. The BJP in turn could put up a united fight only during the presentation of the Anti-conversion Bill where they caught Siddaramaiah off guard with documentation that proved that the bill was initiated by the Siddaramaiah government.
The padayatra will enter Bengaluru on the fifth day and rallies are planned all over the city.