The three major political parties, two national and one regional are in the fray in the ongoing Karnataka Elections, which will end tomorrow. Between the two national parties, while the Indian National Congress (INC) is trying to make a ‘comeback’, the Barathiya Janatha Party (BJP) is going all out to ‘Capture’ power.
The regional party Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) is attempting to ‘Sustain’. This election is vital for all the three parties, in the sense that Congress must win for the credibility of the party as well as its President and her son is at stake; The BJP, which was the single largest party in the last Assembly election (2004), must win for it would be opening its account in the southern states; Janata Dal-Secular must win, for the Gowda family’s political career itself is at stake.
The way the Congress party is going about in preparedness as well as campaign shows that the party has not learnt its lessons properly from the recent failures. Its obsession with Hindu majority’s caste equations and over dependence on minority votes taking them for granted, which caused its failure in Punjab, UP, Uttarkhand, Gujarat and Himachal elections, remains unaltered. Assuming that it can garner a large chunk of Vockaliga votes and urban votes, it brought back S M Krishna, thereby earning the wrath of the other leaders in the State. As they openly exhibited their displeasure, the party refrained from naming Krishna as the Chief Ministerial candidate. The party hopes to get a major chunk of the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe votes, which forms one fourth of the electorate apart from the 11% of Muslim votes along with securing a major share from Vockaligas through Krishna, Kurubas through Siddharamaiah and Lingayats through M P Prakash. Here again the party failed to consider the Mayawathi factor and the fact that her party had crushed it in UP and spoilt its winning chances in maximum possible seats in HP. The same factor may prove to be its nemesis in Karnataka. Though there is no necessity for the party to consider the other State elections, it must have at least analysed the reasons for its miserable record in the September 2007 local body elections in Karnataka. But unfortunately, the party has totally ignored it and not only that, it has also not bothered to analyse its own performance during the tenure of Krishna and Dharam Singh, as evidenced by its present election manifesto.
The party, in its election manifesto, has committed so many things, for which it has not made any attempt at all during its last two tenures. It is also riddled with too many factions and depends on Sonia and Rahul to conduct a united show of campaign, which might not be possible due to the truth that both Sonia and Rahul themselves are not confident of winning the elections. The biggest drawback for the party is its own track record at the Centre, which is marred by absolute non-governance for the last four years. The high command, the State leaders and the cadres are not sounding confident and it seems that they have seen their defeat written on the wall.
The Janata Dal totally depends on the Gowda family, which itself is divided on who should become the Chief Minister between the two sons, as though the party is going to win the elections. The Senior Gowda seems to reliy more on the strength of poojas, mantras and temple visits. Though he claims to be a ‘humble farmer’ the Kannadigas are well aware that he is one of the richest persons of Karnataka. His family’s role in the other major issue, the ‘mining scams’ has also caught the attention of the people. Though the people may have a soft corner for H D Kumarasamy, and prefer him to his elder brother and father, they know for sure that the father-elder son duo would not allow him to function independently, as evidenced by his dilly-dallying and dilemma in relinquishing power for Yediyurappa and extending support to him six months back. Apart from Gowda and his sons, the party has dearth of leaders especially after the rebels like Siddaramaiyah, Prakashn and some other former legislators joined Congress. The party’s only strength is its performance in the September 2007 local body elections, which happened before the betrayal episode. After enacting the infamous betrayal drama, Gowda family has lost its credibility to a great extent, which might prove to be its political nemesis.
When compared with Congress and Janata Dal, the BJP is on a better wicket. The party, which came out as the single largest entity in the 2004 Assembly election, rightly sat in the opposition and allowed the opportunistic Congress-JD (S) combine to expose itself. Then when Deve Gowda pulled the rug from under the feet of Dharam Singh and brought the state under a political crisis and when a re-election at a heavy cost of the exchequer became imminent, its high command negotiated with Gowda and allowed Kumarasamy to rule as the CM, thereby solving the crisis. Even during the President’s rule, the party has been reaching out to the people and its preparedness for the poll has been good and the campaign strategies have been meticulously planned. The pathetic governance at the Centre by the Congress led UPA government failing in all areas for the last four years and the successive wins of BJP/NDA in Punjab, Uttarkhand, Gujarat and Himachal, have increased the fortunes of BJP in Karnataka.
The terror camps in the jungles by SIMI and the subsequent arrests of SIMI leaders and cadres and the repeated terror attacks on its soil, have given a feeling of insecurity in the minds of the people. The rising prices of essential commodities and the Congress’s failure to control it has turned the tide in favour of BJP. The UPA government’s pandering to minorities, sudden surge in Islamic terrorism have united the Hindu majority beyond caste configurations. But whether it will lead to a major victory in the elections is an intriguing moot point.