Karnataka Assembly elections are less than a fortnight away and all the stakeholders are batting at their best in the slog overs. Like every elections, irrespective of it being of Panchayat or corporations or assembly, the results of Karnataka elections would be used as a yardstick to measure and forecast the possibility of BJP’s return to power in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The dynamics of electioneering keeps on evolving as each election goes by, today it’s more of a marketing function – a better marketer walks away with the highest number of votes and consequently the seat. When it comes to the BJP, the show seems to be run by PM Modi only.
Modi is a fine orator and a talented marketing person, one can infer this from his election rally speeches which are very precise and plucks the right cord. This is why when Modi hit out at Rahul Gandhi taunting him that he couldn’t speak even for 15 minutes without looking at a piece of paper, he in fact served two volleys at one go. First, it was a personal attack at Rahul which seemed to imply “Look Rahul, you still need to learn a lot, you are no match for me” and second is strategic—“Look congress men/women, you are being made to report to a not so capable leader”.
Congress and its chieftains must have read in between the lines by now, but the BJP in Karnataka will have to introspect as it’s too dependent on Modi and his persona. There lacks a strong face to project, leaving it dependent on Yeddyurappa, but the ghosts of the past still haunt Yeddy.
The Congress, meanwhile, wants to beat the BJP in its own game. There seems to be a paradigm shift in the strategy of the Congress party with respect to the Karnataka Assembly elections.
The party appears to be toeing the line of the BJP, for instance Rahul Gandhi’s temple hopping and his desire to visit Mansarovar is an attempt to lure the moderate Hindu votes.
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As for Siddaramaiah, he is invoking the rattle of Kannadiga pride similar to the BJP’s perceivable nationalistic outlook. The Lingayat card played by Siddaramaiah is quite similar to BJP’s Dalit and Triple Talaq moves.
The Congress knows very well that Rahul Gandhi still needs time to get into the grooves of real politics and at least in Karnataka where voters are highly conscious he lacks the connect. This leaves them no choice but to let Siddaramaiah play the fiddle as he likes. Till now, Siddaramaiah has been matching Modi’s move. This in one way is good for Rahul as well as in case the Congress loses Karnataka, the full square blame would fall on Siddaramaiah. Rahul as usual will emerge victorious.
If poll surveys are to be believed, most have given an edge to the Congress and Siddaramaiah as the most preferred face for the CM’s post but political pundits predict a hung assembly. If this turns out to be true then the Janata Dal-Secular may emerge as the kingmaker. Modi might have sensed it and hence there was little bonhomie between him and former PM H D Devegowda.
Kannadigas generally change the incumbent government every five years, but whether they will give a second chance to the Congress that time will tell but as of now the game is on.
The author is a political observer and writes on socio-political affairs.