A tale of two Bengaluru campaigns: PM’s roadshows vs Rahul’s bus and pillion rides

Just a few days before the high-stakes Karnataka Assembly polls, Bengaluru witnessed high-voltage campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

PM Modi undertook massive roadshows in the state capital on Saturday and Sunday, covering a distance of altogether over 30 km, which drew huge crowds.

Rahul campaigned in the city on Sunday and Monday in a seemingly freewheeling manner as he interacted with various groups of gig workers, students and women passengers. He took a pillion ride with a delivery agent and boarded a Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus to interact with passengers.

On Saturday, PM Modi held a road show from J P Nagar 7th phase to Malleswaram, covering 26 km. On Sunday, his roadshow rolled from New Thippasandra Road to Trinity Circle, traversing a 6.5 km stretch. Although his roadshows attracted massive crowds on both days, there were also a few discordant notes as some Bengaluru residents expressed their unhappiness over the blocking of roads and traffic jams.

While on Saturday, the Intermediate Examination (Group-I) of Chartered Accountant was scheduled in the city, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate) and all-India pre-medical test were held on Sunday.

The Bengaluru Traffic Police had blocked many of the roads in Bengaluru south and central business districts to facilitate the roadshows. There were also rains on both days that flooded a few roads.

Kicking off his electioneering on Sunday, Rahul met with gig workers and delivery partners of firms like Dunzo, Swiggy, Zomato and Blinkit. Later, he also rode the pillion of a delivery agent’s scooter through the city. Along the way, according to the Congress, they discussed issues like “unemployment, price rise and gig employees’ working condition”.

On Monday, Rahul stopped for a cup of coffee on Cunningham Road. He interacted with a group of women college students and working women, who were waiting at a nearby BMTC bus stop. He then hopped on to a BMTC bus and spoke with some women passengers about their aspirations for Karnataka, according to the Congress camp. In its election manifesto, the Congress has also pledged to ensure free travel for women in government buses in the state.

Some Congress leaders said the women passengers shared their concerns with Rahul over issues like their daily commute as well as the impact of price rise on their household budgets.

Later, Rahul disembarked at Lingarajapuram and resumed his conversation with another group of women waiting at the bus stop.
“There were no roadblocks, no traffic congestion during Rahul Gandhi’s visit to all these places,” claimed a Congress leader. The party’s state general secretary B S Shivanna said it was “not a planned event but spontaneous”, claiming that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has changed public perception towards Rahul and his ideas.

Bengaluru city accounts for 28 Assembly seats. Despite its edge, the BJP has been losing ground in the city over the last two Assembly polls, winning 11, 12 and 17 seats in 2018, 2013 and 2008 polls respectively as compared to the corresponding Congress seats of 15, 13 and 10.

First published on: 09-05-2023 at 07:09 IST

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