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          Cong chases influencers after survey shows tough fight

          Cong chases influencers after survey points to tough fight

          KPCC president D K Shivakumar and Kusuma H, the party candidate for the bypoll-bound Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly segment, take out a road show at Gorguntepalya on Saturday. Credit: DH Photo

          In a last-ditch effort of sorts, the Congress has identified more than 9,000 influencers on whom it is banking to swing the November 3 Rajarajeshwarinagar bypoll after an internal survey revealed that the election could go either way.?

          The Congress has fielded debutant Kusuma Hanumantharayappa to go up against the BJP’s Munirathna, a disqualified legislator who was earlier with the grand old party. The JD(S) has fielded local clansman Krishnamurthy V. The poll fight has intensified with the Congress and BJP running high-decibel campaigns.?

          “For the first time, we’re trying to map voters to our workers. For example, one worker will be assigned to one household to drum up support for the party. We’ve also done a ward-wise list of influencers. Each influencer can get us anywhere between 25 and 2,000 votes. We’ve identified 9,582 influencers,” a senior Congress leader involved in the party’s campaign said.?

          According to sources, a sentiment survey has shown a split in the Vokkaliga community, which could work against the Congress. Kusuma and Krishnamurthy are Vokkaligas, whereas Munirathna is a Naidu (OBC). “There’s also a split in the OBCs. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Munirathna appears to have helped a lot of people, which is keeping him afloat among the backward classes,” the source said. “Also, we found that Munirathna has a good hold over Tamil SCs, especially in slum areas.”

          The Congress survey also found that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent, has not played an active role in the bypoll. “But, the BJP’s 2018 defeated candidate Tulsi Muniraju Gowda, who had an axe to grind against Munirathna, has given the message that they’re on the same page now,” the source said.?

          The survey covered 2% of the total Rajarajeshwarinagar electorate, which is 4.60 lakh. The parties are worried about how the voter turnout might impact the outcome of the bypoll. The Congress believes that a higher turnout will be more favourable to its candidate.?