Bangalore: Congress leaders are sweating it out in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
But soaring mercury is not the only reason for the heat as the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), which was floated by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, is really giving nightmares to Congress leaders.
After the Union government gave special status to the region under Article 371-D, it was believed that it would have ensured a smooth ride for Congress candidates. But the truth is the KJP is spoiling the party in the region, which has about 40 Assembly segments.
The region comprises districts like Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Bellary. While nine constituencies of Bellary is heading for fractured mandate, the other districts are also looking the same way.
BJP, which had a good presence in the region during the last election is now almost out of the race. In its place, KJP has made tremendous inroads, threatening chances of many candidates.
In some places, the fight between Congress and KJP may help JD(S) to spring some surprise results.
In Bidar, KJP is confident of winning at least three of the seven places, which otherwise would have been a cake walk for Congress. In the same way, it is confident of winning two seats in Gulbarga, out of nine seats.
Even senior leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Dharam Singh, whose children are contesting in the same region are working overtime to stall KJP's onslaught on their children's poll prospectus.
The only district that is not affected by KJP's onslaught is Raichur district, where Congress is being challenged by JD(S) in two constituencies. The KJP factor is not bothering Congress much in this district.
Bellary district, which shot to fame due to the iron ore mining episode, is getting ready for change. However, Congress is mired with internal squabbling here too.
Rajya Sabha member and miner Anil Lad managed to get a ticket for himself as well as his supporters, while party old timers like Diwakar Babu were sidelined.
Consequently, most of the Congress corporators in Bellary are refusing to participate in the poll campaign at both Bellary urban and Bellary rural constituencies.
Tappal Ganesh, who was instrumental in bringing down Reddy brothers' mining mafia quit Congress.
Anil Lad's cousin Santhosh Lad has managed to get tickets for his supporters in Hadagali and Sandur Assembly segments.
Former minister Anand Singh decided to stay back in BJP and is contesting from Vijayanagar constituency.
Though former minister B Sriramulu, a close associate of Janardhan Reddy floated BSR Congress, the party has not made much impact in the district. The only place where Sriramulu's supporter is a strong contender is at Kudligi.
Sitting MLA Nagendra is contesting as an independent candidate, not on BSR Congress ticket.
At the end, Congress, which looked at sweeping the region may end up losing out around 10-15 seats of the total 40 seats.
BJP banks on Modi's image
The success of Sunday's public rally in Bangalore has made Guja rat chief minister Mr Narendra Modi a star campaigner for BJP in Karnataka.
Now, state BJP has decided to hold two more similar rallies to consolidate its traditional strongholds.
If everything goes right, Modi will be addressing public rallies in Mangalore and Belgaum, which is an important center in Mumbai-Karnataka region -- a traditional stronghold of BJP.
The decision was taken on Monday, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed two public rallies in Karnataka. While his public function in Hubli was attended by only 5000 people, another rally in the outskirts of Bangalore was attended by around 15,000 people.
However, Modi's rally on Sunday was attended by more than 30,000 people.
"We have realised that Modi is the only crowd puller in Karnataka, where the people are not responding to any other leaders. In Old Mysore region, Deve Gowda is pulling some crowd. In other areas, no leader is getting the response, which was seen few years ago,'' a BJP leader noted.
Both coastal and Mumbai Karnataka region have been traditional strongholds of BJP. During the last five years, the morale of BJP supporters has been down. However, Congress could not contain rebels in coastal Karnataka, which gave fresh lease of life to BJP and the party want to further consolidate in the communal sensitive areas by making Modi campaign in the region.
Though Mumbai-Karnataka is not so communally sensitive, the BJP has slipped in the region during its five year rule. BJP leaders managed to stop migration of Lingayat leaders like Umesh Katthi, Basavaraj Bommai, Murugesh Nirani and others from going with former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.
The party hopes to further consolidate its position by getting Modi there.
'Our hands are clean'
Taking a dig at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's statement that the Congress had no chief ministerial face to show and the party was only showing its hand, KPCC President Parameshwar said the reason for that is because the hands of Congress is clean.
Participating in a media interaction program, Parameshwar said: "Unlike BJP leaders, who are tainted all over, our hands are clean. I don't think a face is required at this time. Now, we are concentrating on getting the required number of seats -- 113 -- to form the government. We have many bright faces in our party. BJP has only the face of Jagadish Shettar, which has blackened nowadays."
After getting the requisite number, the legislature party will empower the party high command to select the chief minister.
"High Command has certain parameters, based on the circumstances to choose the chief minister,'' he added.
Defending former chief minister S M Krishna, who skipped many Congress functions, including Prime Minister's rally on Monday, Parameshwar said that there was no point in hoarding all the leaders in one place, at the time of elections.
"As per our poll strategy, we have decided to go individualistically in the places where we have influence. Kharge and Dharam Singh are campaigning in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, as they have influence over the voters. Like that, Krishna is campaigning in Bengaluru, Mandya and some other districts. There is nothing wrong in it,'' he said
Former Prime Minister Mr H D Deve Gowda on his son Mr H D Kumaraswamy: "I don't like nepotism. It is not that I back my son. I was not in favor of the way he became chief minister. However, he gave a good administration. If he comes to power again, he will change the direction of the state."
KJP President Mr B S Yeddyurappa: "The State BJP is zero without me. It is a sinking ship. My party do not have high command. People are its owners and we will win maximum number of seats this time and enter Vidhana Soudha.
A lucky house in Mudhol
It is now being termed as a lucky house in Mudhol in Bijapur district. Two former ministers -- Govinda Karjol and Murugesh Nirani won their elections, staying in this house.
The house in Basavanagar extension of the sleepy town belongs to Venkanna Gadigeppagola. Venkanna, who was living in his farmhouse in the outskirts of the town rented it to Karjol in 1994. Karjol converted the house into his election office and won the election.
Later in 2008, Murugesh Nirani rented the same house and converted it as his election office. He also won the election.
Now, Congress candidate R B Thimmapur, who had lost elections in 2004 as well as 2008, has rented this house. He is hoping the house will turn around his electoral fortune.