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Karnataka Has Never Voted the Ruling Party Back in 3 Decades, Can Siddaramaiah Buck the Trend?

Pre-poll surveys, done by independent poll agencies and some commissioned by the Congress, claim that anti-incumbency is surprisingly low in the polls.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 10, 2018, 6:15 PM IST
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Karnataka Has Never Voted the Ruling Party Back in 3 Decades, Can Siddaramaiah Buck the Trend?
File photo of Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. (Facebook)

Bengaluru: With the Election Commission declaring the poll dates, the final round of battle for Karnataka begins from today.

The incumbent Congress government, led by chief minister Siddaramaiah, started the preparations a year ago to put the main opposition on back foot. He is now ready with all the wherewithal.

The main opposition BJP initially relied fully on its CM face BS Yeddyurappa to bring the party back to power in the most important southern state. But in the last three months, it seems to have shifted the focus from Yeddyurappa to BJP's central leaders and national agendas.

The BSY factor does not seem to be yielding the desired results for the party.

The third player JDS, of the Gowdas, is moving earth and heaven to create a hung Assembly to save itself from political extinction.

It has been out of power for the past 11 years and another loss can seal the fate of JDS.

Unlike in the last two Assembly polls, the major issues this time are of a different order.

In 2008, the BJP won on JDS' "betrayal" to Yeddyurappa plank. In 2013, the Congress won on BJP government's massive corruption.

In this election, new issues have cropped up. Siddaramaiah is defending his five-year rule on development plank. He is also banking on minority tag for Lingayats, primacy of Kannada in Karnataka, north south divide, etc.

Pre-poll surveys, done by independent poll agencies and some commissioned by the Congress, claim that anti-incumbency is surprisingly low in the polls.

They claim that Siddaramaiah has endeared himself to the masses through his populist schemes and by holding on to his core vote bank of Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits known as AHINDA.

Even though there have been several corruption charges against his government, all failed to stick and the opposition has failed to link them to Siddaramaiah.

The backward class leader Siddaramaiah is now deftly playing a Hindu and son-of-the- soil card to stop BJP in its tracks. He is also making the rounds of temples and mutts to shed the image of an anti-upper caste leader.

He is also setting the agenda forcing the BJP to react, a new for the Congress.

The BJP looks confused as its strategies don't seem to be working. Yeddyurappa is now being branded by the Congress as a corrupt leader promoted by Modi and Shah.

The Lingayat strongman is also in a fix over Lingayat religion issue. The Congress claims that he is no longer a top leader of the community and the religion card will get substantial Lingayat votes for the ruling party.

The BJP is now focusing more on making it a Modi versus Siddaramaiah fight rather than a Siddaramaiah versus Yeddyurappa fight.

The PM is likely to hit the ground in the next two weeks to take on the Congress. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been touring the state for over two months and he is getting a good response to his public meetings.

The JDS knows that it will be extremely difficult for the Gowdas to remain relevant in politics if it fails to create a hung Assembly this time. It has joined hands with Mayawati's BSP and Sharad Pawar's NCP in the state. It has already come out with a list of 126 candidates.

Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah have openly attacked the JDS calling it a "B" team of the BJP.

Karnataka mostly voted during the Winters. The then CM SM Krishna advanced the elections by six months in 2004 and lost the Summer battle. After that Assembly polls are held in the hottest month May. The South-West Monsoon enters the state in the first week of June.

Karnataka has been a cyclical state since 1989. In 1985, the then CM and Siddaramaiah's boss Ramakrishna Hegde had won a second consecutive term. After that no ruling party has been able to retain the power till today.

The BJP hopes that history will favour the party in opposition.

Siddaramaiah believes that he can rewrite the history by returning to power.

One thing is sure, it is a Siddaramaiah versus the rest battle.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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