Twists And Turns of Karnataka Polls

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BJP leader Yedyurappa - Sakshi Post

S Gopinath Reddy

Even as pre-poll surveys indicate a hung Assembly in Karnataka, the high-octane election war in the Kannada state took a curious turn today with the Income Tax sleuths raiding the house and office of Karnataka Minister Mahadevappa in Mysore. Mahadevappa, incidentally, is a trusted aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah .

The Congress which was looking comfortable till a few weeks ago, seems to be losing ground if the pre-poll surveys are any indication. Both BJP and Congress are falling well short of the simple majority of 113 seats in the 224 seats Assembly. In such a scenario, JD (S) is likely to play the role of a kingmaker. The latest survey by an agency indicated that Congress will end up at 91 seats though there would be a swing of 2 per cent in its favour compared to 2013. In the Assembly, Congress has a strength of 124 seats while the BJP has only 40 seats. BJP, thanks to the return of former chief minister Yedyurappa and B Sriramulu, who contested independently in 2013 is predicted to do better in this round at the hustings.

If the surveys are anything to go by, BJP will improve its tally to 89 from the present 40 with a positive swing of 15.1 per cent votes. However, it will fall well short of the magic figure of 113. JD (S) is likely to retain its 40 seats while the strength of others will come down to mere 4 from the present 22. Yedyurappa and Sriramulu were in the category of others in 2013.

This scenario leaves a tough road ahead for both Congress and the BJP. The Congress is mainly banking on the popularity of Siddaramaiah, as about 40 per cent of the voters favoured him as a better chief minister candidate compared to Yedyurappa, who received the approval of about 28 per cent electorate.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, its senior leader Mallikarjuna Kharge, and a few other top leaders are leaving no stone unturned, while BJP president Amit Shah himself devised poll strategies and campaign schedules giving the contests a sharper edge. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address almost a dozen rallies and meetings beginning April-end. RSS cadres have already entered the scene and are on a door to door campaign.

Of the three rivals, JD (S) leader and former chief minister Kumaraswamy seem to be enjoying the ground situation. His stakes will be high. Political analysts feel that BJP is allowing JD (S) to cover up some more ground in the seats where its presence is nominal. The more the JD (S) gains, the more the Congress stands to lose. Being cosy to JD(S), BJP wants to reap the benefits post results and unfurl the saffron flag on the imposing Vidhana Soudha.

The BJP denying tickets to Yedyurappa's son Vijayendra and his close aide Shoba indicate that the saffron party is not prepared to entertain any favouritism. Today being the last day for filing nominations, the campaign is all set to gather momentum. A much bigger battle lies ahead, with both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi trying to outsmart each other on all fronts. Will it be a nail biting finish? We will have to wait and watch.

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