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Chunav Flashback: When Sushma Swaraj learnt Kannada to challenge Sonia Gandhi in 1999 Bellary election l Video

Bellary remained a Congress stronghold from 1952 to 2000, however, from 2004 to 2018, the seat was with the BJP. The saffron party lost it to Congress in 2018 bypolls but won it again in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: April 25, 2024 16:39 IST
Chunav Flashback: The high-voltage battle in Bellary
Image Source : INDIA TV Chunav Flashback: The high-voltage battle in Bellary between Sushma Swaraj and Sonia Gandhi in 1999.

Chunav Flashback: In 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Karnataka's Bellary Lok Sabha seat witnessed an interesting contest between two key leaders -- Congress Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Sushma Swaraj. Though Sushma Swaraj lost the high-voltage battle against Sonia Gandhi, people in this constituency remembered her as Sushma 'Thayi' (mother in Kannada).  

When Sushma Swaraj's speech in Kannada left crowd awestruck 

Sushma Swaraj clicked with the people of Bellary from the very first days of her campaign. The BJP leader, in order to build a connect with the locals, learned Kannada in a very short span of time.

In one of her election rallies, when Sushma Swaraj began her speech in Kannada, the people were left awestruck with this gesture of her which even forced the BJP leader to pause for a while as the crowd loved it.

Striking the chord with the locals, when Sushma Swaraj started speaking in Kannada, the crowd erupted in cheers and kept appluasing for the BJP leader. She spoke in Kannada for almost 5-6 minutes and her speech was enjoyed by the people there.

Sushma Swaraj was praised by Atal Bihari Vajpayee for her Kannada speech

The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who also accompanied Sushma Swaraj in Bellary and was present at that rally, praised the BJP candidate and her command over Kannada language.

Addressing the crowd, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said he was left surprised by the way Sushma Swaraj spoke in Kannada and added that he has a fear now whether she will be allowed by the people of Karnataka to go back to Delhi or would be kept by them here.

But she will have to go back to Delhi, after winning this seat as a Lok Sabha member, Vajpayee said.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee further revealed that at first, Sushma Swaraj didn't want to contest the Lok Sabha election this time. She wanted to work for other candidates. But there was some invisible power that was deciding that Sushma Swaraj would be contesting the election and also from Bellary seat.

"There was some divine power that made Sushma Swaraj fight from Bellary and win this seat and that's the reason why she is present here today before you," Vajpayee added.

Take a look at Sushma Swaraj's speech in Kannada and Atal Bihari Vajpayee's reaction in 1999

Though Sushma Swaraj put up a fighting campaign against Sonia Gandhi, she lost the election by a margin of 56,100 votes.

Sonia Gandhi received a total of 51.70 per cent votes while Sushma Swaraj bagged 44.70 per cent vote share.

In 2024, Bellary will vote in the third phase on May 7 along with 14 other parliamentary seats in the state. Karnataka has a total of 28 Lok Sabha seats.

The BJP has fielded B Sriramulu against Congress' E Tukaram.

ALSO READ | Chunav Flashback: When Sam Pitroda's 'hua-to-hua' remark on Sikh riots before 2019 polls created a row



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