Deputy President William Ruto is planning a charm offensive on ODM leader Raila Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu and Migori counties.
The Kisumu tour is tentatively scheduled for next week and preparations for the rally began in earnest Monday with a visit by a delegation of select people from Siaya, Kibra and Kisumu.
Raila has enjoyed near-fanatical support in Nyanza over the years and it will remain to be seen if Ruto can make any significant forays into the region.
However, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chairman has sounded a warning to Ruto against any attempt to badmouth their party leader Raila Odinga during his functions.
Mbadi said that even though the DP was at liberty to visit Kisumu, he must exercise caution.
“If someone insults your friend, your father, your associate, you won’t be happy. We always watch him on television insulting the party leader. We are requesting him not to do that when he tours Kisumu. He is free to visit, but the party’s support base will remain unshaken,” he said.
The ODM official further claimed Ruto’s function is likely to attract a huge crowd which will be composed of Raila’s supporters and insulting the ODM leader could work against him (Ruto).
“If he decides to insult the party leader, most likely, his utterances would cause problems at the function. Chances are high that some people who will attend his event won’t be his supporters, but those of the former prime minister. Therefore, if he insults the party leader in their presence, they might yell at him, and that won’t be good,” he added.
Both Ruto and Raila have been touring the country to appease voters ahead of the 2022 campaign duel.
While in Kisumu, Ruto plans to grace church functions and to dish out goodies to the youth and women.
In Migori, he plans to visit areas where he has enjoyed some support and also show support for embattled Governor Okoth Obado who is facing various charges ranging from murder to corruption.
Both Ruto and Raila are seen as the front-runners in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In what is shaping up to be a game of numbers, the DP has focused his attention strategically at four regions that have traditionally voted for Raila.
Coast, Nyanza, Nairobi, and Western are on Ruto’s radar while on the other hand he is attempting to make inroads in Mt Kenya.
In the last two weeks both Ruto and Raila have pitched camps in Coast. Last week, the DP toured Kisii county, another perceived stronghold of Raila.
Ruto has fashioned his 2022 campaigned messaging to be a duel between the “hustlers” verses the “dynasties” which he hopes to penetrate political territories which have been ring-fenced by tribal politics.
In the last few months, Ruto has launched a charm offensive in Coast and Western regions.
The DP was last in Luo Nyanza in December 2018 when he shared a podium with the former Prime Minister in Kisumu county in a function that was officiated by Uhuru .
Ruto has dismissed politicians claiming Uhuru wants to extend his term in office.
He said Uhuru is a firm believer in the principles of democracy and would not condone such a proposal saying such misinformation was causing unnecessary confusion among Kenyans.
“I do not think President Kenyatta has told anyone that he wants his term extended. So, where are these people getting all this information?”Ruto said.