Karnataka Elections-Litmus Test for Congress
The stage is set for another Congress-BJP face-off, as Election Commission of India announced the dates for upcoming elections in the state of Karnataka. The EC on 27th of March announced that the voting will take place on May 12 across all the constituencies of the state, while counting will take place on 15th May. Political analysts across the country see the Karnataka elections as quarterfinals before the big final in 2019.
The present Congress government under the leadership of Siddaramaiah would look to consolidate its ground. On the other hand, BJP would be pinning their hopes on former Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa, as the veteran BJP leader would be seeking to reinstate himself as the CM of Karnataka after he had to resign midway during his last tenure.
Congress looks to consolidate ground
The Battle of Karnataka can prove to be decisive for the Congress party, as retaining the state would certainly help their cause in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The newly elected party president Rahul Gandhi would be hoping to lead the Congress to its first victory in elections since he took over the reigns of party from Sonia Gandhi. Siddaramaiah faces a tough challenge in the state, the Chief Minister battles incumbency and alleged corruption charges against his ministers.
Congress party in Karnataka would be looking to project the upcoming state elections as a direct confrontation between Siddaramaiah and B S Yeddyurappa rather than projecting it as Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi. The Congress government in Karnataka seems to be confident that the people of the state would vote in favour of the developmental politics of Congress party rather than the divisive and communal politics of BJP.
- The Siddaramaiah government has introduced and implemented welfare schemes like Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya, Indira Canteens, Arogya Bhagya, across the state and these have benefited the citizens.
- The Lingayats, who make up 17% population of the state, have been in conflict with Veerashaivas. They seek minority religious status, as they consider themselves different from the Veerashaivas.
- Siddaramaiah considered by many as an astute politician influenced by Mandal politics, the CM has brought different social groups such as backwards, Dalits and Muslims in a single social coalition of Ahinda.
Following the completion of his tenure, Siddaramaiah will become the first CM in last 4 decades to have completed his full tenure of 5 years.
- The government and party has failed to popularise and promote the welfare schemes launched by the government.
- The senior ministers of the state government are heckling corruption charges against them.
- Siddaramaiah faces a challenge to keep the party together in the state, as there are different camps and factionalism within the party, that can be a huge hindrance in party’s election performance.
BJP hopes to reclaim the lost territory
After impressive victories in the recently concluded elections in Northeast India, BJP would like to continue the same momentum going forward, as the party aims to challenge the Karnataka Congress’ government. Ever since 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP along with its allies have formed a government in 22 states, as they continue their march towards a “Congress-mukht Bharat”. The party has been involved in aggressive election campaigning in Karnataka, as they look to regain their lost ground.
Bhartiya Janata Party has lined-up former state Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa as the Chief Ministerial candidate for BJP in the upcoming state assembly elections 2018. B S Yeddyurappa, had to step down from the Chief Minister post in 2011, due to his alleged involvement in illegal mining case filed by Karnataka Lokayukta.
He rebelled after not receiving support from the central leadership of BJP, and in 2012 he walked out of the party but before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections he rejoined the party, B S Yeddyurappa would look to consolidate BJP’s presence in the southern Indian states. BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, would be looking to deliver another mandate in favor of the BJP as they eye next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
- BJP’s cadre base presence in the state would definitely give the party an extra edge over the ruling party, as they would look to exploit the weaknesses of the Congress government at ground level.
- With the return of prodigal sons B S Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu, BJP’s hope of winning the elections have increased, both leaders played an important role in BJP’s defeat in 2013, as they both walked out of the party due to differences with top brats of BJP.
- Although Siddaramaiah looks to split the Lingayats community through minority appeasement, with a vote share of 17% the Lingayats community is most likely to support the BJP because of Yeddyurappa, who belongs to the community that has distanced itself from the Congress since 1990.
Last but not the least, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image as the leader of India, will definitely boost the chances of party in the upcoming elections, as has been the case in previous elections.
- Similar to Congress, the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa is embroiled in corruption charges, that led to his resignation in 2011.
- Even before the EC announced the dates for the Karnataka assembly elections, BJP’s IT cell head, Amit Malviya, released the dates through a tweet that went viral, as Congress and other oppositions were quick to point out “data leak”.
- Factionalism within the party is another challenge in front of party president Amit Shah, as differences between Yeddyurappa and K S Eshwarappa still persists.
The stage is set for Lok Sabha
The Karnataka elections in May is certainly going to be a blockbuster political event, with Congress-BJP face off, while the JD(S) of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda will be hoping to play the role of kingmaker. The stage is set for an intense political campaigning from all the three major parties in the state. For Congress this is their last chance to salvage some hope before the General Assembly elections in 2019, a defeat for them would likely be the end of the road for Congress. BJP, on the other hand, would be vary of the challenges in front of them before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, and a victory in Karnataka would give them a significant presence in southern Indian states.