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    Amit Shah’s Sunday Belagavi rally to sound party’s poll-prep bugle

    Synopsis

    Ahead of the rally, Shah will address a meeting of cabinet ministers in Bengaluru in the presence of chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Saturday. Shah is expected to tell ministers that ministership is a big responsibility and the party will soon evaluate their performance, and that those not delivering will have to ship out at the next cabinet reshuffle, said a party member.

    Shah will also use the occasion to kick off campaign preparations for the panchayat elections and bypolls
    BENGALURU: The ruling BJP is gearing up for a mega political rally to be addressed by Union home minister Amit Shah in Belagavi on Sunday as part of celebrations of the party’s win in the recent gram panchayat polls and to kick off preparations for the ensuing taluk and zilla panchayat elections as well as bypolls to two assembly seats and a Lok Sabha seat.

    The party has chosen Belagavi to put up its political show as the Lok Sabha constituency bordering Maharashtra is headed for bypolls due to the death of minister of state for railways Suresh Angadi. Basavakalyan and Maski assembly seats in Hyderabad-Karnataka region are also due for bypolls.

    Ahead of the rally, Shah will address a meeting of cabinet ministers in Bengaluru in the presence of chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Saturday. Shah is expected to tell ministers that ministership is a big responsibility and the party will soon evaluate their performance, and that those not delivering will have to ship out at the next cabinet reshuffle, said a party member.

    The senior BJP leader will also take stock of the mood among the MLAs after Wednesday’s cabinet expansion. However, he will caution them against airing their displeasure with the chief minister in public, as their comments could harm the party in the forthcoming polls and help rivals Congress and JD(S), said the party member.

    The main agenda of the home minister’s visit to Belagavi is to celebrate BJP’s win in the recent gram panchayat polls and to tell the new members of their responsibility as gram sevaks (village servants). He will also inform them about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deep faith in gram panchayats and urge them to effectively use the funds their institutions are getting to implement development programmes, Karnataka BJP spokesman Capt Ganesh Karnik told ET.

    Shah will also use the occasion to kick off campaign preparations for the panchayat elections and bypolls, he said.

    Panchayat elections in Karnataka’s 31 districts and 226 taluks, scheduled for May, will test the popularity of both the BJP and the CM among voters.

    On January 11, the BJP launched a district-wise ‘Jan Sevak’ (public servant) campaign aimed at hand-holding the newly elected members of gram panchayats.

    Even before Karnataka’s 5,728 gram panchayats went to the polls in two phases last month, the BJP had launched a state-wide campaign called Gram Swaraj to set off the campaigning mood.

    The party is cautiously approaching the zilla and taluk panchayat polls as their outcome will hold a mirror to its appeal among the voters and it can’t ill-afford any setback as the assembly polls are due in 2023.

    Since the recent gram panchayat polls were apolitical and not held on party symbols, the BJP, Congress as well as JD(S) could claim a stellar performance. The outcome of zilla and taluk panchayat polls, however, will reveal the relative strength and weaknesses of the parties.
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