Rama Krishna Sangem
With just a week to go for public campaigning in Karnataka assembly elections, opposition Congress is still strong as per many internal surveys, but ruling BJP is fiercely fighting back to retain power in its Southern stronghold. Congress top brass is of the view that the party might secure simple majority by crossing 123 seats in the 224 strong House, or finish single largest party -with around 105 to 108 seats.
Then, the party will get the support of JD(S) which might get around 25 seats and form a government ousting BJP from power. This is the best case scenario for Congress leaders actively engaged in poll campaigning in Karnataka, who spoke to Excel India. Congress and JD(S) leaders are hopeful of one-sided Muslim vote, which would be around 18 per cent to them, thus giving a cutting edge, in more than 50 seats.
BJP sensing the ground mood, since March first week when a C-Voter pre- poll survey gave them just 31 per cent of popular vote, as against 39 per cent of Congress has started leaving no stone unturned. A major drawback of Basavaraj Bommai led BJP government in Karnatka is its corruption, most ministers openly talk and accept bribes or their share of commissions, up to 40 per cent in government works.
Series of steps by BJP
BJP has taken a series of measures to contain the damage. Karnataka is not just a State for BJP, but a matter of prestige for it to retain assembly as indicates the mood of educated people ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. Moreover, Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, is an international city as India’s technology hub. If BJP loses Karnataka, its Digital India or Make in India or even Atmanirbhara Bharat slogans might lose sheen.
As a first step, BJP Central leadership has replaced 61 out of around 120 sitting MLAs with new comers. This is a huge risk. Leading lights like Jagdish Shettar and Laxman Savdi who were denied tickets defected to Congress, thus delivering blow to BJP. Former CM BS Yeddiyurappa has been asked to stay out the CM race again and his son Raghavendra is just another contender, though with a possibility of becoming a minister, if it comes to power.
This is a calculated risk for BJP. The caste arithmetic of Lingayat, Vokkaligas etc are taken through different way – hope of more reservations, instead of fielding popular leaders. Congress is the obvious beneficiary of BJP’s losses, which is on a comeback mood. Congress has trained all its top guns – Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and local starts like DK Shiva Kumar, Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjuna Kharge.
In BJP it is PM Modi and HM Amit Shah show all the way. Modi has successfully projected himself as the person in stake in Karnataka elections. That is the reason why he said, the Congress leaders had abused him 91 times. Rahul Gandhi retorted saying it is not a contest to decide fate of Modi. But it is too late, already the Karnataka elections are dominated by Rahul Vs Modi. So, we need to wait to see the impact of JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswmy