The Karnataka Elections, that are scheduled to be held across the state on 12 May 2018, is being hailed as a wave-less election. Most of the opinion polls as of now indicate a hung assembly with none of the three major political parties- the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) expected to get majority in the 224 seat assembly.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies in recent days have made a massive impact on the electoral equations. It is a well-known fact that PM Modi is an outstanding orator and a brilliant campaigner. His campaigns have significantly turned the tide in favour of the BJP in the past, with the Gujarat elections being the latest example. Even in Karnataka, the Prime Minister has drawn crowds in huge numbers to his rallies. This has been the norm across the state. Whether it was Bengaluru, Udupi, Ballari, Mangaluru or Hubballi, every rally has witnessed massive attendance.
The unique thing about these rallies is the manner in which the Prime Minister has captured the attention of the crowd. Leaving the political rhetoric aside, it is important to note that all his speeches have been different and original from one another. He has always begun his speech in Kannada; in fact he has incorporated different styles of Kannada depending upon the place or the venue of the event. He has invoked the more than 2000 year-old rich history and culture of Karnataka, offered salutations to some of the greatest Kannadigas who have changed the world, and even mentioned the names of common citizens based out of Karnataka during his speeches. The BJP has also ensured that his speech is translated to Kannada for the benefit of those who don’t understand Hindi.
On May 1, PM Modi addressed rallies in Santhemarahalli, Udupi, and Chikkodi. Santhemarahalli is located in the Chamarajanagara district of Karnataka where the BJP has never exerted its influence in the past. Chamarajanagar district is the southernmost district of Karnataka. It borders Mysuru district and the famous Bandipur Wildlife sanctuary is located over here. The district is home to the holy shrines of Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy temple (BR Hills), Male Mahadeshwara (MM Hills), Himavad Gopalaswamy, among others. The district itself is named after the great visionary king of Mysuru, Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar. The famous Kannada poet GP Rajaratnam and the legendary Kannada actor and Dada Saheb Phalke award winner, Dr Rajkumar hailed from this place. The holy Sutturmatha is located in the neighbouring Mysuru district. PM Modi offered his salutations to the holy shrines of Chamarajanagara and the Suttur matha of Mysuru. He invoked the names of Chamarajendra Wadiyar, GP Rajarathnam, and Dr Rajkumar before proceeding with his speech.
Much of the Western Coast of India is believed to have been created by Bhagwan Parashurama and hence it is called Parashurama Kshetra. Jagadguru Sriman Madhvacharya, the founder of the Dvaita school of Vedanta and one among the trinity of acharyas hailed from Udupi. It was here that he established the eight mathas or the ashta mathas, which are collectively referred to as the Udupi Sri Krishna matha with the idol of Sri Krishna which was again established by Madhvacharya. Kanaka Dasa, one of the foremost of the Haridasas of Karnataka worshiped this idol of Krishna and was a pious devotee of the god. PM Modi began his speech here by invoking them and offering his salutations to all of them. He described Udupi as the tapobhoomi of Madhvacharya.
Udupi and Mangaluru are collectively referred to as the cradle of Indian banking because many prominent banks such as Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, Karnataka Bank, Corporation Bank and Vijaya Bank originated from here. PM Modi mentioned this fact and highlighted the achievements of the Jan Dhan Yojana, one of the flagship schemes of his government. He also mentioned the name of Gururaj Poojary, silver medalist in the recently concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games. PM Modi also adorned the headgear which is used by artists performing the Yakshagana, a hugely popular folk art form in Karnataka.
In Chikkodi, Belagavi district of Karnataka, PM offered his salutations to Goddess Yellamma of Saundatti and described Belagavi as the land of saints and warriors. He invoked the names of freedom fighters Kittur Rani Chennamma and Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna. He invoked the name of Basaveshwara or Basavanna, one of India’s most prominent social reformers and one of the well-known names in vachana sahitya in Kannada literature. Since Belagavi has a significant Marathi speaking population, PM Modi also invoked the names of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Sambhaji.
On May 3, PM Modi addressed rallies at Kalaburagi, Ballari and Bengaluru. In Kalaburagi, he invoked the legacy of the great empires of Kalyani Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, two among the largest empires in Karnataka’s history. He described this land as the land where Basavanna once walked. He invoked the spirit of freedom fighter Raja Venkatappa Nayaka. In Ballari, he invoked the legacy of the glorious Vijayanagara Empire, arguably the most glorious empire in Indian history. He described this land as the one where great kings like Krishna Deva Raya ruled and saints like Sri Vidyaranya lived. Anegundi which is located in Gangavathi taluk of Koppal district is located near Hampi and is believed to be the ancient kingdom of Kishkindha which is why PM Modi made references to the Ramayana. The Anjanadri hill over here is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman which is how he described this land.
In Kengeri, Bengaluru, PM Modi invoked the names of Nadaprabhu Kempe Gowda, the founder of modern Bengaluru, Nobel Prize recipient Sir CV Raman who lived for a long time in the city, legendary Kannada actor Dr Rajkumar, and the legendary Diwan of Mysuru and arguably the greatest engineer in Indian history, Sir M Visvesvaraya. He also acknowledged the various sports persons from Bengaluru who have brought laurels to the country.
In Jamakhandi, Bagalkote district, PM Modi offered his salutations to goddess Banashankari whose temple located in Badami taluk. He described this land as the land of the brave Pulikeshi-II, arguably the greatest king in Karnataka’s history and one of the greatest kings of ancient India and remembered the legacy of the Badami Chalukyas, one of the greatest empires in Karnataka history. He invoked the names of freedom fighters from this part of Karnataka. He also mentioned the famous Mudhol hounds during his speech while criticizing the Congress Party. Mudhol is located in this district and the hounds over here are the only indigenous breed of dogs to be inducted into the Indian Army.
In Raichur, PM Modi offered his salutations to Sri Raghavendra Swami, the famous saint of Dvaita tradition who is hugely popular in South India. His vrindavana or resting place is located in Mantralaya or Manthralayam in Andhra Pradesh which is quite near Raichur. He described Raichur as the land of the Haridasas of Karnataka and mentioned the names of Purandara Dasa, the pitamaha of Carnatic music, Vijaya Dasa, and Jagannatha Dasa. He described Raichur as the land of gold in reference to the Hutti gold mines which are one of the two active gold mines in India, the other being in Chitradurga.
Chitradurga gets its name from the picturesque fort that is located in the city and that is exactly how PM Modi described it during his speech over there. He described Chitradurga as the land of fort and invoked the spirit of the brave Madakari Nayaka, the most famous king of Chitradurga and the brave Onake Obavva who is remembered for her bravery and sacrifice during a battle with Hyder Ali’s Mysuru army in which she almost single handedly ensured that Chitradurga was defended. He invoked the spirit of Madara Chennaiah, a 12th century Kannada vachana poet and saint.
In Gadag, PM Modi invoked the name of the worshipful Puttaraj Gawai, a Hindustani classical musician, scholar, and saint. He invoked the name of the famous saint and folk singer, Santha Shishunala Sharifa. He also remembered the legendary Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in his hometown. In Hubballi which is the largest city in the northern part of the state, PM Modi described the city as the land of the siddharoodha matha. He described it as the land of saints and the brave. He mentioned the name of the brave Hanumanthappa Koppad who waged a brave battle against the nature itself after the avalanche that had struck at Siachen.
In Mangaluru, PM Modi mentioned the name of Karan Acharya, the Mangaluru based artist whose painting of Hanuman has become popular across the country. First it became popular in Karnataka and now its popularity has spread throughout the country. Recently, a few articles had been written against the “angry” Hanuman and a few people had called it a symbol of Hindutva. Against this backdrop, PM praised the artist and called his creation a symbol of pride of Mangaluru.
As it can be seen through these numerous examples, PM Modi has appealed to the people of Karnataka by invoking their rich history, heritage, and culture. What makes this even more appreciative is that his speeches have been in sync with the geography of the places. It is no surprise that his rallies have been welcomed by Kannadigas who have attended them in large numbers, even in the heat of this summer, particularly in the northern part of the state which is known for its blistering heat. It would be fair to say that PM Modi has won the hearts of the Kannadigas. As we reach the last stage of campaigning, PM Modi is scheduled to address more rallies at Vijayapura, Koppal, Bengaluru, among other places. The entire state goes to polls on 12 May and the results will be announced on 15 May. Whether the huge success of these rallies will be reflected in the upcoming elections for the BJP, we will know for sure on the 15th of May.