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Karnataka polls: On Yeddyurappa's 75th birthday, PM Modi to address farmer rally

By Anusha Ravi

As Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) state chief, B S Yeddyurappa turns 75, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Karnataka for the third time to campaign for the upcoming assembly polls. A farmers' rally in Davangere scheduled on Tuesday is not just symbolic to endorse B S Yeddyurappa as a strong farmer leader but also reiterate his position as the party's Chief Ministerial candidate in Karnataka assembly elections 2018.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

With an unwritten "rule of 75" within the party, many questions have been raised over B S Yeddyurappa being picked as BJP's CM candidate for Karnataka. While Yeddyurappa himself, as well as the party's central leadership, have put away the age factor, dissent within the party was never hidden. The conspicuous absence of K S Eshwarappa, the man who overtly rebelled against B S Yeddyurappa with his Sangolli Rayanna brigade (a union of backward class leaders within the BJP), in PM Modi's Mysuru rally has raised many eyebrows.

Also Read | Modi knows my age, I am the next CM of Karnataka: B S Yeddyurappa

PM Modi's third visit to Karnataka comes at a time when rumbles of growing dissent have returned to haunt the BJP ahead of polls. While Tuesday's rally is the first farmer-specific campaign program organised by the BJP, the focus is likely to be on reiterating B S Yeddyurappa's position as a farmer leader as well as the party's CM candidate despite the age factor.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's speeches as well as the budget presented earlier this month, highlighted the Union government's reluctance to waive off farmer loans. The heavily pro-farmer budget presented by Siddaramaiah is likely to make BJP's pitch in the Davangere rally difficult. The rally also comes two days after a video showing a farmer asking uncomfortable questions of BJP National President Amit Shah in Karnataka is doing the rounds.

Tuesday's rally is expected to directly reflect on Yeddyurappa's command as a farmer leader in Karnataka and his position in the party as its CM candidate. Leaders within the BJP hope that frequent visits by the central leadership will keep dissent at bay.

Karnataka Assembly Election dates
Date of notification April 17
Last date to file nominations April 24
Last date to withdraw nominations April 27
Date of polling May 12
Date of counting May 15

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