Deputy Presidnet William Ruto's six-day campaign blitz in Mt Kenya is now seen as an attempt to undo the gains of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition running mate Martha Karua’s recent whirlwind tour of the region.
The two major formations locking horns in the August 9 General Election appear to have picked Mt Kenya as the battleground for the all-important win.
The battle lines became distinct when Ms Karua was named the running mate on May 16 and she kicked off her Mt Kenya onslaught in her home county of Kirinyaga on May 17 in the afternoon. In the morning, she toured Nyandarua County.
On May 18, Ms Karua campaigned in Meru County before proceeding to Tharaka-Nithi on May 19. Late in the evening of the same day, she ventured into Embu County. On May 20, she toured Nyeri and Murang’a counties before proceeding to Kiambu on May 21.
After Ms Karua left Nyandarua on May 17, Dr Ruto visited the area two days later on May 19. Accompanied by Mr Mudavadi, Mr Wetang’ula and Democratic Party’s Justin Muturi, Dr Ruto said Ms Karua was “only helping Odinga sneak into the mountain camouflaged as an asset when we all know he is a liability”.
Earlier that day, Dr Ruto had attended the burial of Mr Gachagua’s elder brother in Nyeri County before he proceeded to Gatundu South.
On May 20, DP Ruto hosted an economic forum in Embu before he proceeded to Ukambani. The following day, the DP was back in Murang’a, before he headed to Mr Gachagua’s Mathira constituency, and closed the day with rallies in Gatitu and Nyeri town.
Yesterday, both teams were in Kiambu County.
Dr Ruto presided over an economic forum for Limuru constituency in the morning before he went back to Murang’a where he campaigned in Mathioya and Kigumo constituencies.
On the other hand, Mr Odinga was in Kiambu town for a meeting with religious leaders, accompanied by Ms Karua and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
8.6 million votes
Counter attack strategy committee member Joe Nyutu, who is contesting the Murang’a senatorial seat on a UDA ticket, said the Kenya Kwanza team had zeroed in on Nakuru, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Nairobi, Laikipia, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru and Tharaka-Nithi as the theatre of what he said will be continued efforts to lock the Azimio team. The 11 counties have 8.6 million votes.
“We are privy to the Karua tactical plan in Mt Kenya region ... we have decided that we will keep an eye on her moves and move in with timely responses to avert her effect,” Mr Nyutu said.
Yesterday, Ms Karua maintained that she is on the ground to give Kenya Kwanza a run for its money.
“They need not panic because I have not even started in the follies ... they should wait for my second round and the third that will impart the sucker punch, leaving Mr Odinga as the region’s candidate of choice,” said Ms Karua in an interview on Inooro TV.
About pockets of heckling that have characterised her campaigns in the region, she said: “They don’t have the guts to face me. They can only send children whom they have fed on alcohol and drugs to do the dirty job for them. I dare them to confront me one on one and we shall deal.”
“By virtue of speaking the area language, understanding the political dynamics and terrain, I have seen the UDA euphoria build and I understand how it was the case. I am bringing a counter-narrative that will certainly tilt the scales,” she said.
Yesterday, Mr Gachagua sought to downplay the DP’s forays of the mountain after Ms Karua’s, saying the Kenya Kwanza team is out vote hunting just as they have been.
“Karua is not an issue to us since she is not our competitor ... we don’t want at any time to lose our focus on Mr Odinga who is our common political problem.”
Kandara MP Alice Wahome, another Ruto ally, said the political direction of the mountain had not changed.
“Ms Karua is not competing against Dr Ruto hence why we are not interested in her activities,” she said Ms Wahome. Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said Ms Karua had made no gains in the region.