Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially kick-started the last leg of BJP campaign in Karnataka, with his usual political rhetoric, predicting that the BJP would storm to power in the state. “It is not a BJP wave in Karnataka but it is a BJP storm,” he said.

Addressing a rally at Chamarajanagar district, the Prime Minister dared All India Congress Committee president Rahul Gandhi to speak for 15 minutes extempore in a language of his choice, including his mother tongue. “I challenge you (Rahul Gandhi) to speak for 15 minutes on the achievements of your government in Karnataka without reading from any piece of paper. You can speak in Hindi, English or your mother tongue,” he said. Rahul Gandhi had previously challenged Modi to allow him to speak in Parliament for 15 minutes.

Referring to Rahul as representing the ‘high and mighty’ (Naamdaar) and himself representing the ‘ordinary people’ (Kaamdaar), the Prime Minister attacked Rahul with a sarcasm.

Aware of the fact that the elections are in Karnataka, the Prime Minister took on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah referring to him as 2+1 ( the CM is contesting from two seats and his son from one) and many Congress ministers as 1+1 (indicating the presence of dynasty politics).

Hitting back at the Prime Minister for his “2+1 formula” jibe at him, Siddaramaiah on May 1, said Narendra Modi’s formula to win the assembly election in the state is “2 Reddys + 1 Yeddy”.

Responding to Modi’s jibe, Siddaramaiah in retaliation tweeted: “Today PM avoided talking about his complicity in closing CBI cases against the Reddy bros. Instead he spoke about some 2+1 formula. Here is the explanation to his formula to win election. 2 Reddys + 1 Yeddy.#2Reddy1Yeddy

Further Siddaramaiah pointed out that the PM had contested from two seats during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.  “Was it fear that drove you to contest from 2 parliamentary constituencies (Varanasi & Vadodara) Mr. PM @narendramodi ? Of course you are a 56 inch man, you would have some clever explanation! Forget 2 seats, Sir. Worry about the fact that your party will not cross 60-70!” tweeted the CM

As CM hit back at the PM’s jibe, Twitter erupted with the hashtag #2Reddy1Yeddy and the Twitterati had a field day targeting the BJP.

Smita Prakash, Editor at ANI, tweeted: “Spirited fight being put up by CM Siddaramiah to Mr. Modi’s taunts & allegations. Almost real time on his twitter feed. He is not waiting for Congress party to react, or RG’s responses. Not seen any CM take on a PM with the same gusto as Sids. Good going. #karnatakaElections2018”

As BJP tries hard to make Karnataka campaign a Modi vs Rahul campaign, the Congress is cleverly sticking to local issues.

A contest between Siddaramaiah Vs Yeddyurappa, the chief ministerial choices of the two parties is more rational. Even in Rahul Gandhi rallies, the principal speaker continues to be Siddaramaiah,whereas in the PM’s rallies the CM candidate will not beallowed to share the stage (though he was present for the first rally).

The reason cited is the need for both, the PM and Yeddurappa to spread across the state and launch their campaigns simultaneously. The ‘real’ reason to anyone’s guess is to prevent any embarrassment to the PM having to share the stage with Yeddurappa, conceived to be corrupt.

Siddaramaiah continues to build the narrative across the local issues and regional leaders. He has been successful in highlighting that the BJP’s Central leadership is consistently and deliberately sidelining their CM candidate.

The Kannadiga pride and Kannada language seems to be evolving as an important factor in this election. For the PM, communicating in Hindi and expressively connecting with the audience was much easier in the north and west of India. Karnataka is the first State Assembly battle, south of the Vindhyas that the PM is desperately seeking to win for the BJP.

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