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Karnataka Election Results: Siddaramaiah Looks to Beat Three Decade-old Anti-incumbency Trend in Karnataka

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

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:May 15, 2018, 8:35 AM IST
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Karnataka Election Results: Siddaramaiah Looks to Beat Three Decade-old Anti-incumbency Trend in Karnataka
File photo of Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. (Photo: Facebook)
Bengaluru: If the exit polls are to be believed, the Karnataka Election results will throw up a nail-biter of a contest on Tuesday. While most exit polls agree that the state will see a hung House, there is no consensus on whether it is the BJP or the Congress that will emerge as the single largest party.

The main opposition BJP initially relied fully on its CM face BS Yeddyurappa to bring the party back to power in the southern state. But 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 JD(S), of the Gowdas, moved heaven and earth 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 JD(S).

Unlike in the last two Assembly polls, the major issues this time are of a different order. In 2008, the BJP won on the JDS' "betrayal" to Yeddyurappa plank. In 2013, the Congress won on the BJP government's massive corruption.

In this election, new issues 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, claimed 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 also deftly played a Hindu and son-of-the-soil card to stop the BJP in its tracks. He also made 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, at least in the initial days, looked confused as its strategies didn’t seem to be working. Yeddyurappa was branded by the Congress as a corrupt leader promoted by Modi and Shah.

The Lingayat strongman Yeddyurappa was 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 was focused on making it a Modi versus Siddaramaiah fight rather than a Siddaramaiah versus Yeddyurappa fight.

The JD(S) 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 joined hands with Mayawati's BSP and Sharad Pawar's NCP in the state. 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. Since then, Assembly polls have been held in the hottest month of 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: Ahona Sengupta
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