Truncated Mekedatu padayatra to resume from Ramanagaram on February 27

Published : February 24, 2022 13:03 IST

KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar (right) with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Photo: SHAILENDRA BHOJAK/PTI

For the Congress the padayatra will for all practical purposes be the launch of its election campaign for the Karnataka Legislative Assembly election scheduled to be held in mid-2023.

The Congress in Karnataka is all set to resume its truncated 170-kilometre Mekedatu padayatra on February 27 from Ramanagaram in south Karnataka. It will now pass through Bidadi before culminating at the National College grounds in Bengaluru on March 3.

The aim of the padayatra was to demand the implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery to provide drinking water and generate additional power for districts across southern Karnataka including Bengaluru. The project was slated to cost Rs.9,500 crore in 2018. The 10-day padayatra commenced on January 9 but was called off on January 12 after the High Court questioned the State government on how the massive rally was being allowed during a pandemic when COVID-19 cases were on the rise.

For the Congress the padayatra will for all practical purposes be the launch of its election campaign for the Karnataka Legislative Assembly election scheduled to be held in mid-2023. While it is primarily Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president and Vokkaliga strongman D.K. Shivakumar’s show, the enthusiastic participation of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the padayatra in January was meant to signify that the two top leaders of the State Congress — both leading contenders for the Chief Minister’s post in case the Congress is voted back to power — were united contrary to rumours that speculated on a rift between the two. All India Congress Committee General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala is slated to flag off the padayatra on February 27.

The padayatra will pass through 15 Assembly constituencies through the heartland of the dominant Vokkaliga caste where the Congress competes directly with the Janata Dal (Secular) although the Bharatiya Janata Party is making desperate efforts to breach this ‘Vokkaliga corridor’.