Two Cong leaders fight it out as the party seeks power in Karnataka
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"On May 8, we'll be looking at the very least 130 seats." A beaming Siddaramaiah, the chief ministerial face of the Congress at least on his home turf, the Mysore belt, has no doubt that the party will govern on its own and more, "In the coming Lok Sabha Polls we'll deliver a minimum 20 out of 28 MPs."
"Despite all that's happening to the UPA in Delhi?"
"Never mind Delhi. Look at the turnout! See the enthusiasm! On a Sunday at high noon in this sweltering heat..." He points towards the surging crowd that tries to trot up and catch up with the SUV that is ferrying him back to the helipad. "Voters go by local factors."
This is as uneuphemistic as anyone can get in the grand old party. The message is clear. Elections from now on will be won by state leaders, of course for and with the blessings of the High Command. (Soniaji and Rahulji mentioned once at the end of the speech. The PM not at all.) The unsaid part is if you project the right CM or at least get a bit less vague on the team head as the polling date draws close, voters might connect better.
However, there was no early sign of any connect. The crowd waited patiently as earlier speakers including the local MP, Dhruva Kumar, had their take on the socially divisive saffron outfits, the BJP and Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party. For a good hour before he got up to speak, Sidharamaiah sat visibly engrossed in a Kannada newspaper. He hardly made any eye contact with the audience. When he finally got up to speak, his sole plank was the BJP's corruption. In a speech dotted with numbers, astronomical enough to give the CAG a complex but a risky proposition at a poll meet, he held the crowd.
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