BENGALURU: In the midst of a particularly virulent campaign for the Assembly elections in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was virtually sent back by Congress leader and CM Siddaramaiah with just one tweet.

“At least 64 people have lost their lives due to a storm in Uttar Pradesh. My heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. I am sorry your CM is needed here in Karnataka. I am sure he will return soon and attend to his work there,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.

The BJP retorted saying that Adityanath was not sleeping on the job, but he in the face of mounting criticism he had no choice but to cut his campaign short by a day and return to Lucknow on Friday, leaving his party hard pressed to answer questions about the sudden decision.

Ten meetings had been scheduled for Adityanath in basically the coastal belt of Karnataka where the campaign has taken a communal and polarising turn. Just yesterday the UP CM attacked the Siddaramaiah government for supporting “jihadis” adding "If we have to keep our coming generations safe, then we will need a government that deals with the jihadis properly.” He was at the time addressing a public meeting at Shimoga.

Asked why Adityanath had left a day earlier BJP media coordinator Shantaram told The Citizen that his visit was originally for just two days, and then it was extended by a day. But he decided to finally stick to the original schedule.

Was it because of Siddaramaiah’s tweet? Shantaram responded with, “the CM is very very afraid of Yogi ji.” And added as an afterthought that perhaps Adityanath would return towards the end of the campaign.

Adityanath is not particularly popular in Karnataka, and was restricted by his party to the coastal belt where the campaign is intended to polarise and divide communities. The UP CM lived up to his reputation as a polarising personality, with his speeches attacking the Congress and the state government for encouraging terrorism and protecting jihadis. He spoke of cow protection, nationalism and terrorism with,

"The Congress is not concerned about protecting cows or the nation... They will continue to protect jihadi and terrorists... Till the Congress is in power, people like Yasin Bhatkal will continue to raise their heads.” And he boasted of how his government in UP had finished the terrorists and the jihadis in the state,where none of them could raise their ugly heads. And went on to link the Congress with the politics of corruption and terrorism, accusing the state government of playing divisive politics. And it was this divisive politics, he added, that nurtured terrorism in a clear reference to the minorities.

The BJP is optimistic of doing well in the coastal areas where the RSS has been working actively with its affiliate organisations for several years now. Sections of the Congress concede that the BJP has improved its position here as a result, although no one is as yet predicting the results. The presence of the Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India in this region is being used to further fan the divisions with BJP leaders openly describing these outfits as linked with terrorist organisations, and accusing the Congress of supporting these.

The other main propaganda unleashed by the BJP in this belt is of targeted murders of Hindus, with the campaign again linking the Congress apathy to these and the growth of terrorism. Senior leaders have been referring to these so called targeted killings as indication of the growing support of the Congress to what they describe as terror outfits, a campaign started since late last year by the BJP after the mysterious death of 19 year old fisherman Paresh Mesta. He went missing from Honnavar in Uttara Kannada and was found dead two days later on December 8. The BJP moved in insisting he was tortured by jihadi elements with the state government countering this with a detailed forensic report stating there was no such evidence.

The BJP has grown steadily in the coastal belt since 2013 when the Congress won 14 of the 24 Assembly seats here. In 2014 the BJP won all three Lok Sabha seats in this belt, and both parties are currently fighting to regain and retain their hold. The BJP has kept the campaign communal and polarised with Adityanath projected by the party here as a star campaigner. His sudden departure thus, has embarrassed the party with the Congress visibly exultant over the “success” of the Chief Ministers tweet.