The Karnataka Legislative Assembly election will be held in April-May 2018 to elect members of the 224 constituencies in Karnataka. The Bharatiya Janata Party began its election campaign officially on November 2, 2017 with the launch of Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivarthana Yatra, a 75-day tour across Karnataka led by its state president B S Yeddyurappa and he could gather good attention and participation by people. After that, in December 2017, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, although not part of the election campaign, undertook a task of setting up booth-level committees at 54,261 locations in the state who will be responsible to disseminate information on various programmes of the ruling Indian National Congress and their implementation. The move was seen as an “extensive outreach programme” preceding the elections.
Meanwhile, a pre-poll survey conducted by Suvarna News claimed that neither the Congress nor the BJP would get a clear majority. Of the 224 seats, the pre-poll prediction gave 88 to Congress, 82 to BJP, 43 to JD(S) and 11 to others. The other survey stated that the BJP has strong chances in Karnataka, because there is a terrific anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress CM Siddaramaiah. This is coupled with scams at regular intervals. B S Yeddyurappa got clean chit from high court in mining scam. S M Krishna is inclined to BJP. Many Congress MLAs are not happy with Siddaramaiah for giving ministerial post to son of Kharge and other central leaders. As a matter of fact when Yeddyurappa was accused of corruption, he had to resign and eventually quit the party. He formed his own outfit, which somewhere dented BJP’s chances. But now he has been given clean chit by honourable Court. Therefore, Amit Shah has firmly retorted that elections will be fought under his leadership. Yeddyurappa is undoubtedly a very popular leader. He belongs to the Lingayat community and it is expected they will back the BJP strongly in assembly polls.
Yeddyurappa enjoys a strong support in the state and making him the leader will clearly give BJP a reason to come back to power in Karnataka. Furthermore, no development has taken place anywhere in the state. There is an impression that Siddaramaiah has neglected Bangalore completely. Due to infrastructure problem, many IT companies in Bangalore are winding up or shifting or downscaling. After the recent heavy downpour, many parts were swamped with water. The government has not taken any action and they blend to forget immediately after rain subsides. In the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2013, Parameshwara had lost heavily. People are of the view that Siddaramaiah has sabotaged his chances, only to become CM. Even now, time and again, Parameshwara is humiliated. Dalits feel they should teach a lesson to Congress. There is every possibility they may desert Congress this time.
Siddaramaiah’s tacit support to Lingayat, for separate status of religion, does not go well with Hindus. There is every possibility of the rest uniting against Congress. Moreover, Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) has merged with BJP.
Yeddyurappa is the CM candidate of BJP and there is no opposition to him in the alliance, he is a unanimous choice. In the electoral history of Karnataka, at no time, the incumbent government has returned to power since 1989. Power is alternating since then.
The biggest disadvantage to Congress is that lot of their leaders have switched over to the BJP. This phenomenon was seen in UP and even in Gujarat where Shankersinh Vaghela changed sides which dealt a major blow to the proceedings in Rajya Sabha re-nomination of Ahmed Patel. In Karnataka, S M Krishna, who felt marginalised, left the party to join the BJP. This will affect the Congress for two reasons. He belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga community and so this may help the BJP garner their votes. Secondly, the transformation of Bengaluru and Karnataka as a hub for IT and otherwise, can be attributed to S M Krishna and his tenure. His joining the BJP will certainly aid in capturing more seats or votes and help them reach the magical majority figure. K Jayaprakash Hegde who has a strong hold in coastal regions of Karnataka also resigned Congress and joined BJP.
Kumar Bangarappa of Shimoga, belonging to Idiga community (backward caste) joined BJP with two more ex-MLAs. He is the son of former CM late Bangarappa.
Srinivasa Prasad, a Dalit leader quit Congress and joined BJP. Moreover, Karnataka has always being traditionally believed that Vokkaligas and Lingayats were demographically the biggest caste groups in Karnataka forming about 15 per cent and 17 per cent respectively of the total population. There was always truth in these beliefs, which inevitably reflected on the power sharing in the state. CM Siddaramaiah unfortunately is lacklustre and fails to inject inspiration into the Congress cadre to retain power again. He lacks that killer instinct which is harboured by somebody as Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh. Siddaramaiah is known as the Rahul Gandhi of Karnataka for his know-how and it is further garnished by arrogance and lust for power.
Nonetheless, communal polarisation factor may be other game-changer in Karnataka for BJP. Hindus are always known for their great unities, never mind that this unity is to back the ruler who celebrates a tyrant invader with great pomp. The king Tipu Sultan was such a good propagandist that his intentions were clearly inscribed in the handle of his sword which some people of Karnataka seems to be enamoured of. The BJP has recent political developments on its side, which makes it confident of winning the Karnataka election easily. The Congress is more or less following the same old pattern and will get the same old result of being badly rejected by the electorate and can always claim moral victory. In Gujarat, they followed similar strategy of picking up caste leaders to woo voters. And we all know what an outrageous success they got.
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