Sonia on 2-day visit to Karnataka from tomorrow

Bangalore: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will pay a two-day visit to Karnataka from tomorrow during which she will visit a drought-affected village, participate in 105th birthday celebrations of Siddganga mutt pontiff Shivakumara Swami at Tumkur and address party workers there.

Sonia will arrive here tomorrow and stay at the Raj Bhavan. As per her schedule, she will leave for Tumkur by helicopter on April 28 and visit Nagasamudra village in Chitradurga district for an on the spot assessment of the acute drought situation there.

KPCC President G Parameshwara told reporters that Sonia would have a 30-minute interaction with the villagers, who are facing acute drinking water shortage following drying up of a tank, built in 1905 and which has not filled up since 2009.

She would later leave for Siddaganaga mutt to participate in the birthday celebrations of the centenarian Shivakumara Swami, widely respected for his services in providing education and boarding facilities to poor children.

The Swami is the most influential guru among the Lingayat community, which Congress is trying to win over ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls to regain power after losing it in 2004.

Most Lingayats, whose population forms about 17 per cent of 65 crore of the state, have distanced themselves from Congress.

Parameswara said that Gandhi, after seeking the swami`s blessings, would address about 1,000 Congress delegates at the Siddaganga Institute of Technology in Tumkur. He said three teams of Congress which had toured drought hit 123 taluks in the state would submit their report to the Sonia Gandhi and seek her intervention to secure more finanial assistance to the state for drought relief work.

All four union ministers representing Karnataka– S M Krishna, Mallikarjun Kharge, K H Muniyappa and M Veerappa Moily will be present on this occasion, he said.

Congress is bracing itself to galvanise party workers for the polls, taking advantage of simmering internal fissures in the ruling BJP and criticism against the saffron party government`s governance.