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Karnataka turning into crucial chessboard in runup to 2024 election

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Bengaluru: With the internecine wranglings in Karnataka Congress and JDS levelling allegations of electoral malpractice against the ruling party, Karnataka is fast becoming a crucial chessboard in the runup to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

An intense power struggle is ensuing between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, which casts a shadow of uncertainty over the party’s future prospects in Karnataka.

A distinct factional divide is apparent, and it is reflected in CM Siddaramaiah’s consistent attempts to validate his authority, amidst the intermittent raking up of power-sharing formula by Shivakumar’s camp.

These constant attempts to assert his authority through his outspoken opposition to moral policing and the heft to revoke hijab ban raises doubts about Congress government’s stability in Karnataka and efficacy of Siddaramaiah’s leadership.

In a striking contrast, Shivakumar appears to have been marginalised within the party’s rank, despite bringing Congress back to power in the state with strategic acumen. He finds himself overshadowed by senior Congress leaders, which is resulting in internal discontentment and erosion of support.

This also reflects the party’s inability to utilise the full potential of its talented members like Shivakumar, who is know for his organisational skills and political maneuverings.

Adding salt to the wounds is Priyank Kharge’s rise, who is strategically positioning himself as an alarming force in the state politics, which is reflected in his strong statements against RSS and Bajrang Dal, threatening them of strict action if they “tried” to disturb peace in the state.

There are also media reports of his tussle with MB Patil to get the IT-BT portfolio by arguing that he had held it in the previous Congress government and did a good job. Patil, on the flipside, argued that the ministry should be given to him as the IT sector comes under the industries sector. Ultimately CM Siddaramaiah alloted the portfolio to himself, ending the stalemate.

Priyank Kharge’s assertion is no surprise, given the hierarchical system that the Congress party practises since its beginning. After all, he is the son of Mallikarjun Kharge, the incumbent All India Congress President.

As the Congress is gripped with internal fighting, Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy led JDS have adopted a two-pronged strategy to fight the grand old party after being ripped apart in the recent assembly election.

Firstly, the JDS supremo Deve Gowda sent a strong message of supporting the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by attending the inauguration of the New Parliament Complex. Secondly, it actively is exposing the electoral malpractices of the Congress party in the just-concluded state election.

In a press conference, JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy made stunning disclosures, accusing the Congress party of distributing gift cards with a balance of Rs 5,000 as a means to buy votes. He also alleged that these cards were distributed in 40-plus assembly constituencies to woo the voters.

These allegations of mass voter manipulation have caused outrage and demand for a thorough investigation, not only by the JDS, but also the BJP.

Both the opposition parties are gearing up a strategy to put the Congress party on the mat over its delay in implementing 5 Guarantees promised to the voters ahead of the election.

With the ongoing power struggles within Congress, and the issue of electoral malpractices brewing up in the public domain, the stage is set for a riveting voyage towards the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.

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