Despite having an upper edge in the upcoming Karnataka Elections 2018, it remains a Do or Die Battle for the Congress. With the Election Commission having declared the poll dates, the parties enter the final lap now.
The Congress Government led by Siddaramaiah had sounded the poll bugle almost a year back and has been steadily preparing for the Big battle well ahead of the other opposition parties. A rarity for a congress style of election functioning.
BJP’s central Leadership after deliberating all permutations and combinations finally relied on its most popular Lingayat face, the ex CM, BS Yeddyurappa to marshal the party back to power. The initial Fanfare surrounding the appointment of BS Yeddyurappa died down rather quickly. The BSY factor could not yield the desired results, which the party expected. The Party shifted the focus of leadership from ex CM to the Present PM and Party President. The two have all the resources and desired experience to fight elections like none other. This has, in a way shifted the focus of electioneering around local issue to National issues.
The third player JDS, has been reduced to a marginal player, all due the efforts of the CM Siddaramaih. Seven JDS MLAs who rebelled against the party a year back, have all resigned and joined Congress.
The Gowdas, on their part have not let the fight slip out of their hands yet. They seem to be moving earth and heaven to create a hung Assembly to save themselves and their Party from political extinction. With very few Big Leaders left in the party, who could win elections more on their personal clout and reputation than the party tag, JDS now seems to be a party on a downhill.
The major issues on which this battle for 2018 is to be fought in Karnataka is very different compared to last two Assembly elections.
In 2008, it was the JDS’ “betrayal” to Yeddyurappa, which BJP milked it to its advantage and roared to rule a south state for first time. The massive corruption, “Jail tourism” and formation of KJP, helped the Congress to make a comeback in 2013.
This election has many different issues; Siddaramaiah is defending his five-year rule on development plank. He is also banking on minority tag for Lingayats, primacy of Kannada in Karnataka, resistance to Hindi imposition, north south divide, federalism, sub nationalism etc.
Pre-poll surveys had been commissioned independently and by all the major parties. There have been leaks and stories planted to suit their interests have played on in the media. A unanimity in all the polls commissioned is, anti-incumbency is surprisingly low.
The Pre-poll surveys have also claimed that Siddaramaiah has ingratiated himself to the masses through his populist schemes, playing the Kannada pride and holding on to his core vote bank of Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits known as AHINDA.
There has not been a single major corruption charge proved against the government. Even though the opposition tried, their best to nail the government on even small issues, have not yielded any result. The opposition has failed to pin down the CM or his government on charges of corruption.
Siddaramaiah, an OBC leader has mastered the art of politicking and has played mostly by the political rules set by the BJP. He is now deftly playing a Hindu and son-of-the- soil card to stop BJP in its tracks, thereby beating them at their own game. The Kuruba community to which he belongs to have stood firmly behind him.
He is also setting the agenda forcing the BJP to react, a new for the Congress.
The BJP, which is a potent electioneering machinery, now looks confused, as its strategies don’t seem to be working. Yeddyurappa has been mocked as Jail Bird and a corrupt leader promoted by the BJP central leadership.
The Lingayat strongman is also in a fix over Lingayat religion issue. The lingayat religion issue has in a way checkmated leaders of the opposition Party. It remains to be seen how this issue will play out politically on 12th May 2018.
The BJP is now focusing more on making it a Modi versus Siddaramaiah fight rather than a Siddaramaiah versus Yeddyurappa fight. This ploy may not work in BJP’s favour as CM has played the card of “Son of Soil” to his advantage.
The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been touring the state for over two months; he has been drawing huge crowds and is getting good response to his public meetings. The Prime Minister and the BJP Party president too have lined up rallies in coming days and will leave no stone unturned to garner votes and regain power in the only south Indian state where they ruled earlier.
The Gowdas only hope is a Hung assembly. They are fully aware that it will be extremely difficult to remain relevant in politics without being in power. The desperation is all but evident. They have joined hands with Mayawati’s BSP and SharadPawar’s NCP. They have also announced a list of 126 candidates, the rest of the seats have been left for some political manoeuvring nearing elections.
In a sharp political ploy to corner the JDS, Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah have openly attacked the JDS calling it a “B” team of the BJP. Rahul Gandhi Even elaborated the “S” of JDS as “Sanghpariwar”
Since 1989, no party in Karnataka has been able to retain power. In 1985, Ramakrishna Hegde had won a second consecutive term. The governance in Karnataka has been cyclical since then.
Among all other political issues, Siddaramaiah is also up against the history. He firmly believes, he can rewrite the history and a new beginning for the Party, which is now left to govern only three states.
One thing is sure, this election is historic, if Siddaramaiah wins, he rewrites history, if he loses, he becomes History!