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Karnataka heading towards another round of hodge-podge ?

With battle lines having clearly been drawn now, the state appears to be set for yet another round of no bars hold campaign. And in Karnataka, politicians of all ilk would be trying all tricks under the book to impress and influence the voters. But the most comical kinds of scenes are witnessed in the Congress camp which has more than five aspirants for the Chief Minister’s post and which seems to be besotted more with internal alignment problems than otherwise.

The BJP on the other hand, has been careful in not tom-toming its strength and achievements because it is clearly on the defensive and it has been finding difficult to get credible and winnable candidates in a few crucial segments. There is a clear HN Ananth Kumar impact on the selection of BJP candidates which seems to be  more assured and confident about performing in Northern Karnataka region than other areas.

JD(S) has always been strong in the Cauveri delta and it would make that as the cornerstone of its political campaign. The  Deve Gowda family has been hoping for a better harvest this time around because the Congress does not have any tall leader to counter him in the Old Mysore region and JD(S) is likely to take away a lion share in the 90 odd seats of Old Mysore region.

KJP is a dark horse and is treading into the poll-path for the first time and it is hell-bent on spoiling the apple-cart of both national parties. Yeddyuruppa was waiting for a windfall in the shape of many BJP ministers into his kitty. That didn’t happen and now he has to make all sound and noise to keep him relevant in Karnataka political arena as another alternative.

One thing however, appears to be quite clear. The four cornered fight at almost all 224 places and the springing of a large number of rebels and independents indicate that the margin of victory could even be up to 100 votes.

The Congress party does not seem to have followed the traditional wisdom of caste and community combination in giving tickets to most of its candidates. In Karnataka , caste has always played a major role than issues like corruption and bad governance and that would continue to play a decisive role in deciding the fate of many party candidates..The Congress party continues to remain a divided house and leaders of rival factions would try their best to damage the party from within till the end.

The Congress party launched it campaign on 13th April at Malleshwaram grounds in Bangalore. But SM Krishna did not turn up. In 2008, the Congress had won only 9 out of the total of 28 seats.  With the present list of candidates, it would not be in a position to reach double digit.In Old Mysore region, the Congress party has given tickets to most of those candidates who would fail in front of JD(S) and with both Vokkaliga leaders, SM Krishna planning to go abroad during elections and DK Shivkumar having been tied in Kanakapura against PGR Sindhia, it would be a virtual cake walk for JD(S) in most of the cases.

In central Karnataka, the party may have to pay for the insult and humiliation meted out to Davangere strongman Shamnur Shivshankarappa and his son SS Mallikarjuna whose name was announced for segment no 106 at the last moment. Now, his close aides are saying that Shamnur would keep himself confined to his own constituency and do nothing beyond as he does not forget any insult or injury.That Shivshankarappa has been at logger heads with the KPCC President is well known and he makes a big difference on at least 15 to 17 seats in Davangere and adjoining areas together.

The same approach is likely to be maintained by both Dharam Singh and Mallikarjun Kharge who would keep themselves confined to their son’s constituency. Both of them had to wait till the end to get their sons nomination cleared.

The Bombay Karnataka region which accounts for 96 odd seats, the BJP still remains strong because of Jagdish Shettar’s own image and he has managed to keep most of Yediurappa’s close confidants in his own fold.  Despite, all the fracas, the BJP is expected to do well in this area and even a few rallies by Narendra Modi is expected to swing votes in BJP’s favour by at least 5 to 8 percent. Modi’s men have already mapped the specific areas for his campaign and he is likely to be in Karnataka at the end of April to boost the image of the sagging party.

KJP, on the other hand, is expected to do well in Malnaad area but it would certainly do bigger damage to BJP’s prospects than what Bangarappa had done to Congress in 1994. Lingayat voters still get attracted to Yeddyurappa and that is going to spoil the applecart of both Congress and BJP in at least 6 to 8 districts in unexpected ways.

The Congress would have made a huge dent in the coastal area this time.But the wrong selection of candidates because of rigidity and “social engineering”game of Oscar Fernandes, Veerappa Moily and Janardhan Poojari would again be the culprit. In Mangalore, the Congress may win at the most 3 to 4 seats out of 8 and almost the same tally would remain in Udipi as well. The Congress is not going to do well in Karwar either.

As of now, the poll  results of 2013 Assembly polls appear to be going 2004 Assembly polls  way where the BJP got 79 seats while the Congress could get only 64 seats and JD(S) tally was 58 seats. KJP may not win even 20 seats but it would damage  BJP on at least 65 to 70 seats while the JD(S) would definitely improve its present tally of 28 to up to 40-45 seats. The BJP would somehow manage to remain in the range of 60 to 65 seats. That means, the Congress party would find it difficult to even match the tally of 80 seats that it won in 2008 when Mallikarjun Kharge was the KPCC President.

This time around, the situation could prove to be quite difficult for both KPCC President as well as CLP leader.Its clear that the Congress party high command has decided to go into various motions and put up a facade of  sincerity  and seriousness and with regard to Karnataka and at the same time, leaving enough room for internal sabotage and mischief. If the party wins the elections, then it would be seen as the result of collective strength and experience of all those involved. If it loses, then the whole blame would be put on the heads of Falerio and Mistry.

The ground reports from Mysore and Tumkur paint an entirely different picture and questions are already raised if Karnataka too would go Gujarat way with regard to the winnability of PCC President as well as the CLP leader. In Gujarat, both PCC President Arjun Modwadia and CLP leader Shakti Sinh Gohil had to bite dust even as the Congress party faired a wee bit better than 2007 assembly polls in terms of numbers.

The winnability of KPCC President has become all the more difficult because the   JD(S) has fielded a formidable candidate in Sudhakar Lal- a banjara and member of ZP thrice. Incidentally, Lal happens to be the brother in law of Shivmurthy Nayak who is a member of election committee of KPCC. Nayak contested 2008 elections on BJP ticket and lost.Surprisingly, he was brought in as general secretary of KPCC & now a member of the election committee.

Lal enjoys the support of Nayak community in the constituency of Pavagada wherein Dr Parameshwar is the siting MLA. Besides, he also enjoys the confidence of Lingayat community.. Moreover, the kunchatiga Vokkaliga community is following Chennigappa of( JDS) who earlier represented this constituency and now will be contesting from Tumkur rural assembly segment.

On the other hand, CLP leader Sidharamaih represents Varuna segment where the JD(S) has already announced the names of a retired ACP,Mr Cheluvaraju as their candidate and he belongs to powerful Nayaka community which commands nearly 30% of votes in the  constituency. Moreover, GT Devegowda who has returned to JD(S) from BJP, has a significant following in this constituency.   Siddalinga Swamy, a right hand man of Yeddiyurappa, is the candidate from KJP and he will give a run for money to Siddaramaih.

Looking at the present state of affairs in Karnataka, it is quite obvious that   the congress party already seems to have proceeded on the path of Harakiri and seems to have yielded the space to JD(S), BJP and KJP at respective regions even without pondering over the long-term consequences..

At the end, the Congress party may find itself in another embarrassing situation by failing to grab the opportunity which was offered on a platter in Karnataka, thanks to last 5 years of BJP misrule. It would be yet another case of ‘nearest to the Church and yet farthest from God”

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