By Tirthankar Mitra
While Assembly elections in Karnataka is a little over a month away from now, timeline of 2024 Lok Sabha elections is in April/May. But the election results of this southern state and several other states later this year will help BJP and Congress take stock of their chances in the crucial polls next year.
Starved of electoral success for a long time, an upswing of political fortune will give Congress a toehold in national politics. Victory for BJP would vindicate it’s policies at home and abroad and ensure their continuation.
The Congress has never been a pushover in Karnataka. Yet the cup slipped from lip owing to factionalism.
In a display of a better late than never mindset, this bane of the state unit has come into focus. There is no denying the fact Siddaramaiah and Shiva Kumar, key leaders both, have made no secret of their chief ministerial ambitions.
But no factional feuds have broken out so far. At the moment, the duo maintain that it is a post poll decision.
So far, so good. It has to ensure that the facade of unity does not develop cracks at the time of distribution of tickets among the candidates as also during the poll campaigning.
Local issues have been the staple of the Congress campaign. But Rahul Gandhi’s ouster from Lok Sabha following a court order of two years of imprisonment is the latest issue of his party to hit the campaign trail with.
For almost four decades, no ruling party in Karnataka has won with a majority. An exception to this trend has been in 1985 when Ramakrishna Hegde led Janata Party got a clear majority.
In 2008 and 2018, the BJP inched close to a majority. Independents helped it to secure a majority in 2008 while in 2018 it was the resignation of JDS and Congress legislators which saw the saffron party through.
Seeking to reverse this trend, for the past three months senior leaders of BJP’s national leadership have been focusing on the achievements of the NDA government. The achievements of the state government which ought to have been the showcased first in a campaign of Assembly election comes way down the list is a pointer to the campaign’s focus.
The BJP plans to make inroads in new territory and is eyeing the old Mysore region. The Congress and JDS have been the old political rivals in this area.
A successful BJP foray into this region will go a long way in securing a majority which eluded it. Legislators from this area will further its chances of securing a majority.
But seeking to expand it’s support base, the BJP has to ensure it retains the allegiance of northern and coastal Karnataka voters. Small wonder, it is a regular port of call of the senior party leaders.
Pinning its hopes of continuing to enjoy the support of the Lingayats, the BJP is targeting to widen its social alliance. The reworking of the reservation quota is expected to rope in new voters from Dalits, Vokkaligas, Other Backward Classes.
The BJP has entered the poll fray sans a chief ministerial candidate. Former chief minister B S Yediyurappa has declared that he will not contest though he will be among the star campaigners.
Apparently JDS is yet to make a strong pitch for power. It seeks to play a stellar role in the event of the emergence of a hung Assembly. (IPA Service)