Wiping sweat from his forehead, he says, “It looks like our leader (Mr Yeddyurappa) has been sidelined. He is not in his original form in this election… I have heard he is not sharing stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in most rallies.”
Another passenger, Rudrappa, a farmer, says the central BJP leaders are unable to connect with the public due to the language barrier. “The other day, one of my relatives in northern Karnataka attended a rally, but came back disappointed as he could not understand the speech in Hindi,” he says.
A BJP supporter in the bus, Keshava, joins the discussion. “The same is true with Congress,” he says, adding the people of Karnataka cannot connect with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other central leaders.
The bus driver, asked not to be identified, says political rallies are simply “political gimmicks”. “People are asked to shout slogans of ‘Modi Modi’ and ‘Rahul Rahul’. These are political gimmicks,” he says.
The driver was quick to add, “Yeddyurappa, a political heavyweight that he is, knows how to win elections if given full freedom. Yeddyurappa is a mass leader. BJP chief Amit Shah has said that the party is important and not the person. That does not work in Karnataka though.”
A lawyer on the bus says the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate was not giving any befitting reply to the ruling government’s charges against him. “Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is repeating his speech at every place, mentioning about Yeddyurappa’s jail time and the Saubhagya welfare schemes, but the BJP’s CM candidate is not giving a befitting reply to him,” the lawyer says.
“Probably his health is not permitting him to campaign the way he used to do earlier. Otherwise, there is no reason for him to be silent,” he adds.
When asked about the “fading glory” of Mr Yeddyurappa, 75, Gurumurthy, the caretaker of Shikaripura constituency, says, “He has not been sidelined at all. These are fake reports. He is in his full form, else he would not have undertaken the padayatra for 85 days, covering all 224 constituencies just before the election campaign.”
With inputs from PTI