An aggressive Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai dared the Opposition to “stop lotus from booming again if they have the guts”, declaring that BJP was confident of coming back to power in the 2023 Assembly elections with 150 seats.
He was speaking at the Janaspandana event at Doddaballapur on Saturday,
‘Till Modi is PM’
Former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said they will never allow the Congress to come back to power in the State till Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister of the country.
Many leaders who spoke at the event said they drew their confidence from the “massive crowds” at the event in Doddaballapur, a region where the BJP organisation was not strong. Leaders put the size of the crowd anywhere between three to five lakh. While Mr. Yediyurappa put it at three to four lakh and said as many people in the grounds were waiting outside in buses not able to get in, BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel said there was traffic jam for eight kilometres around the venue.
Multiple leaders highlighted the “massive crowds” at the event was in an apparent comparison to Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday bash in Davangere on August 3, though it was not openly stated.
However, police sources estimated the crowds to be at around 70,000 and said there were no traffic snarls. “It was a small venue and the party had organised around 40,000 chairs,” a senior official said.
A senior BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said: “The event seemed jinxed. It got postponed twice, its name was changed. BJP national president J.P. Nadda was supposed to chair the rally, but we had to make good with Smriti Irani, who may be a good speaker but politically less significant,” he said.
However, BJP leaders argued that such massive crowds in an area where they were weak showed people’s love for them and this should dispel the dreams of the Congress leaders of returning to power. “If so many of you have gathered here in a place where we are not strong to show us love, imagine what will be the crowds elsewhere. Better if Congress leaders give up their assumptions of returning to power in 2023,” said Mr. Yediyurappa.
Multiple leaders, starting with Mr. Yediyurappa who was the first speaker at the event, credited Minister for Health and Family Welfare K. Sudhakar, who was in charge of the event, for the “massive turnout”. Ministers Munirathna and N. Nagaraju (MTB) were also credited with organising the event, along with Mr. Sudhakar. All three are defectors to the BJP in 2019 from Congress.