Analysis: Karnataka Set For Close Contest But Congress Has An Upper Edge This Time | India News
Congress, which is confined to power in three states in India, has much at stake in Karnataka. While Karnataka is often dubbed as BJP’s ‘Gateway To South’, it’s also the southern state where Congress has a chance of winning a majority on its own. Also, a win in Karnataka will be a shot in the arm for the Congress ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Election. On the other hand, the BJP which came to power in Karnataka owing to defections, has its pride at the stake in the state. The election is also a litmus test for BS Bommai’s leadership who was given the state’s reign midway after BS Yediyurappa’s ouster.
The Lingayat Challenge
BJP has much to prove this time to win the confidence of the Lingayat sect. The forced ouster of former CM Yeddiyurappa saw BJP bringing in another Lingayat leader BS Bommai as a replacement. However, the Congress not only raked up corruption allegations against him but also accused the BJP of insulting him, a charge returned by the saffron party. Now, with senior Lingayat leaders Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi joining the Congress, the opposition party is confident of regaining the Lingayat votes that constitute around 17 per cent of the state’s population and influence around 70 to 100 seats.
The ruling BJP has scrapped the 4 per cent reservation given to Muslims in Karnataka and Union Home Minister Amit Shah as well as other BJP leaders unequivocally termed it against the constitution. The state was also hit by the hijab ban which grabbed the national headlines as well. This may have united the Muslim voters against the BJP but only poll results will tell whether these issues polarised the non-Muslim voters in favour of the saffron party.
Also Read: Analysis: How Congress May Have Fallen Into BJP’s Polarization Trap In Karnataka
Congress Party’s Social Engineering
The Congress has alleged that the BJP is trying to polarise the elections. To counter this, Congress has built a powerful social engineering which encompasses ‘AHINDA’ (Muslims, OBCs, Dalits) which constitutes a majority population of the state. With BJP also facing anti-incumbency, a minor shift in voting patterns and percentages will give Congress an advantage over the BJP.
Just like the previous election, if the JD(S) manages to keep its traditional voters in the Old Mysuru region, the election may become a tough nut to crack for the BJP. It’s likely that HD Kumaraswamy will again support Congress in case of a hung assembly. The BJP will have to find a way to make bigger inroads into the JD(S) strongholds.
’40 Per Cent Commission’
The BJP government is also facing corruption allegations. In 2021, many contractors alleged that the BJP ministers expected a 40 per cent commission in all government projects. The Congress then ran ‘PayCM’ campaign. To play safe, the BJP did not field former minister KS Eshwarappa and his son who is accused of demanding a cut from a contractor who later committed suicide. However, whether people will trust the BJP on the issue is hard to say. The Congress is aggressively using the ’40 per cent commission issue as a poll plank.
Siddaramaiah vs DK Shivakumar
As of now, while Congress clearly appears to have an upper edge in the Karnataka polls, the bigger challenge for the grand old party is the rift between state party chief DK Shivakumar and former CM Siddaramiah as both the leaders want to become the chief minister and none of them is reportedly ready to accept the junior post. While Shivakumar and Sidaramaiah have scaled down their rhetorics as they publicly said that the decision of the CM face lies with the party’s high command. However, their aspirations for the post is well known. This is the one reason the Congress has not announced its CM face in the polls.
Karnataka has seen greater political instability which has eroded democratic values and people’s faith in electoral politics. It’s incumbent upon the state leaders to work for the aspirations of the people rather than appearing power-hungry. The contest is closest ever this time and it will be in the state’s good if a stable government with a single-party majority is elected on May 10.
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